South Fremont High School
Conference: 3A Mountain Rivers Conference
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Head Coach: Chad Hill
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Previous Experience: Assistant at South Fremont since 2002
Record Last Year: 9-2
State Titles: None
Reece Yancey, QB, 12
Steven Zundel, WR/DB, 12
Daniel Coverley, RB/DB, 12
Fabian Morillon, OL/DL, 12
Kyler Yancey WR/LB 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Reece Yancey – Mountain Rivers Conference Offensive Player of the Year
Steven Zundel – Second Team All-Conference WR/DB
Daniel Coverley – First Team All-Conference RB/DB, Second Team All-State RB
Fabian Morillon – Second Team All-Conference DL
Kyler Yancey – Second Team All-Conference LB
Key Players lost from last year:
Blake Bartschi – First Team All-State WR/DE
Drew Stoddard – All-State LB
Joey Mockler – All-State OL
Nick Trost, OL
Bryson Stoddard, WR/DB
Incoming impact players:
German Gonzalez, OL/DL, 11
Jordan Dodge, OL/DL, 11
Talon Maupin, WR/DB, 10
Tristan Olsen, RB/LB, 10
Sawyer Hobbs OL/DL, 10
Written by: Matt Harris
When thought of in the context of sports, one may think of a legendary player or coach for the way in which they participated in the game over the course of several years.
But at South Fremont High School, Chad Hill and his coaching staff are trying to instill a pattern of greatness into the young men they work with – and it has nothing to do with wins and losses.
“For us, ‘Greatness’ means anything you are doing is worth doing to the best of your ability,” said Hill, now in his sixth season leading the South Fremont football team. “Try to put forth your best effort in everything you do in your life, not just football.”
Now, that’s not to say the Cougars aren’t trying to win football games… they absolutely are. And they absolutely can this season with the plethora of returning players they have coming back to the 3A school in St. Anthony.
Senior quarterback Reece Yancey, the reigning Mountain Rivers Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is back to lead the South Fremont spread offensive attack once again. Yancey was a revelation for the Cougars in 2016, using his scrambling ability to keep plays alive and help lead the team to their best overall record in recent memory.
“With Reece back at quarterback and a great understanding of our offense, we are excited to see what he can do this year,” Hill said.
Yancey will be joined in the backfield by senior running back Daniel Coverley, a second team All-State selection at running back last season. Sophomore Tristan Olsen will also play a role in the backfield with Coverley. The wide receiver positions will be anchored by senior Steven Zundel and junior Kyler Yancey. Sophomore Talon Maupin will also see time on the field at wideout along with Carson Crapo.
“We like to get our athletes in space and let them make plays,” said Hill. “Steven, Kyler, Talon, and Carson are the guys that we want to get the ball to on the outside and let them make plays. Daniel and Tristan have been looking good behind our rebuilt offensive line.”
The line was a big question mark for South Fremont heading into the season, both on offense and defense. Hill called it his ‘X-factor’ to the season.
“We are replacing almost everyone on the line this year,” he said. “If we can find the right group of guys on both sides of the ball, I believe we have that opportunity to be successful this year. As they say, the game is going to be won in the trenches.”
Senior lineman Fabian Morillon will look to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines for the Cougars. He’ll be joined by a younger cast of characters, including juniors German Gonzalez and Jordan Dodge along with sophomore Sawyer Hobbs.
Hill said his team will miss the leadership and services of Joey Mockley and Nick Trost, who have both graduated. He added that he’s seen great progress from the line during offseason workouts.
“We are getting stronger upfront, especially our big guys,” he said. “They are the hardest workers on the team and it is paying off. Our line on both offense and defense looked better and more physical than I was anticipating this summer and that was good to see.”
One of the crutches of the South Fremont offense last year was its reliance on standout wide receiver Blake Bartschi, a first team All-State selection. If a play was in trouble, the Cougars could throw it in the general direction of Bartschi and he would go up and get it, using all 6 feet and 6 inches of his frame. While their reliance on him wasn’t a bad thing, Bartschi has now graduated. Of course, that means that someone new will have to step up. But Hill wants to share the ball throughout all of the offense more in 2017.
“We hope to get more people involved in our offense this year,” he said. “Last year, we relied on Blake a lot and so we hope to use all of our weapons on offense. Blake was a great leader and competitor.”
Defensively, the Cougars will rely on the strength of their returning leading tacklers to help get the job done while the line can gel and form a cohesive unit.
“With Daniel Coverley back at free safety and Kyler Yancey at linebacker, we’ll have two of our leading tacklers from last season leading the way,” Hill said. “We believe we will be tough again. We hope to be as physical as we can be up front so our linebackers can fly around and make plays in our 4-2-5 scheme.”
Zundel will join Coverley in the secondary in the effort to lock down opposing receivers along with Maupin. Olsen will assist Yancey at linebacker. Morillon will lead the rebuilding of the defensive line and will look to Gonzalez, Dodge, and Hobbs to solidify it.
In terms of improvement from last season, Hill is hoping that the secondary can continue to progress.
“We hope to be better against the pass, get off the field on third down, and create more turnovers this season,” he said.
The Cougars will be without the services of All-State linebacker Drew Stoddard, All-State defensive linemen Blake Bartschi and lockdown cornerback Bryson Stoddard, who have all graduated. Hill called Drew Stoddard “the best athlete I have coached.”
Even without the skills of those young men on the football field, Hill likes the defense that he has before him.
“I’m excited about watching the development of our younger players and how they handle the speed and pressure of the game as they move up,” he said.
That speed and pressure will be on full display during the Cougars schedule this year. South Fremont opens up the season at home on Aug. 25 against District 4 powerhouse, the Gooding Senators.
“Over the last two years we’ve had two great games with them and we expect to have another one this year,” Hill said. The game will be video streamed live on IdahoSports.com.
The Cougars then hit the road on Sept. 1 when they play at West Jefferson. They then return home for a game against Bear Lake on Sept. 8. The ‘Cougar Bowl’ then awaits South Fremont when they travel south to face the Firth Cougars. A two-game homestand then awaits them with games at home against Snake River on Sept. 22 and Marsh Valley on Sept. 29.
Conference play then gets underway as the calendar flips to October and the fans get a treat right away on Oct. 6 – a matchup just down the road in Sugar City against their archrivals, the Sugar-Salem Diggers.
“That’s the must-see game on the schedule – the Cold War – because it’s just such a good rivalry,” said Hill.
South Fremont then closes out their regular season schedule with a home game against Shelley on Oct. 13 and on the road in Driggs to face Teton on Oct. 19. It will be no cakewalk by any means for any team in the conference if they have aspirations of making it to the state tournament.
“The Mountain Rivers Conference is the toughest in the state,” Hill proclaimed. “Every conference game is tough and you have to play your best in every game to have a chance.”
The coach said he believed that defending conference champion Shelley was probably the front runner heading into the season, but that anything could happen.
“Teton has a great group of seniors this year and are very well coached,” he said. “Sugar is always athletic and can put super athletic kids at every position. They are also very deep.”
In the football sense of the word, ‘Greatness’ is normally reserved for those in the Hall of Fame or with championship rings. To achieve greatness, those people and teams had to have overcome every obstacle placed in their path to achieve their goal. In the case of the South Fremont Cougars, they’ve overcome several obstacles in their rise from the ashes, having achieved goals along the way.
“South Fremont is a great place to be right now. As a program we are steadily trying to climb every year,” said Hill, whose team has improved their win totals in every year since he took over in 2012. “We have climbed the last five years and we hope to do that again this year. As a coaching staff, we are lucky to have such great kids to work with and who want to be great. And as we always say, 'It's a great day to be a Cougar'.”
Their next goal? A banner that reads ‘2017 Milk Bowl State Champions’. Plenty of work needs to be done to achieve that goal. But the Cougars are ready for the challenge.