Wendell High School
Conference: 2A Canyon Conference
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Head Coach: Cody Howerton
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Record Last Year: 0-8
State Titles: 2003
QB/DB Angel Espino (Sr)
WR/DB Mason Lawton (Sr)
Returning Players with Honors:
WR Hunter Zacharias (Jr), injured in auto accident over the summer
Incoming impact players:
RB/LB Alex Hatfield (Jr)
FB/LB Kyler Lukesh (Jr)
G/LB Ben Orozco (Jr)
Written by: Will Hoenike
Cody Howerton is a graduate of Wendell High School. He received his diploma in 2004 and one of the last things he ever did on the football field as a member of the Trojans was hoist the 2003 2A state championship trophy.
So he knows what the town and program is capable of. And now, the 31-year-old, first-year head coach is aiming to return Wendell to those levels.
“Last year, in our minds, never happened,” Howerton said of the 2016 campaign, which saw Wendell finish winless. “So we are looking at this as a brand-new program, ready to do things the right way.”
And step one of that process are the basics, starting with the team’s motto for the upcoming season.
“’I’m in,’ buy-in to the program,” Howerton told IdahoSports.com. “The grind of getting better and bring Trojan Pride back to Wendell.”
The new head coach admits it will be a process. But he believes in his players and his staff to build things and, in time, finish that climb.
“(Former Wendell coach) Jack Lancaster, the man who made Wendell athletics great before and who made it great for me, and, behind all of this, is still driving us forward said it best,” Howerton said. “Only your best is good enough, but they (the players) can’t be afraid to give their best. So we have to help them get there and believe in themselves.”
Howerton has two senior leaders that should fill key roles on both offense and defense. Angelo Espino will return as the team’s quarterback and will double as a safety on defense. Meanwhile, Mason Lawton will split out at receiver and also play in the team’s defensive backfield as well.
Juniors Alex Hatfield and Kyler Lukesh will be asked to continue to improve the team’s ground game on offense as running backs and, at the same time, limit the opposition’s ground game on defense as linebackers. Junior Ben Orozco should see time at linebacker as well. Howerton and his defensive coordinator, former College of Idaho defensive back Trae Bishop, want the defensive group to swarm to the football and play fast in 2017.
The key for Wendell this fall is likely establishing the belief that Howerton feels is so key. Building that foundation and creating a strong atmosphere going forward after a couple of tough seasons for the program.
“They (the players) need support and to know they can do great things, they can be successful, they can compete and they can win,” Howerton said. “Through that will be learning to have pride in everything around them. Emphasis on their school, their community and being a great role model to help those younger kids believe in themselves and also want to be a Trojan football player and a Trojan athlete.”
Wendell opens the season on the road at Marsing on August 25. The Trojans play in the Canyon Conference, a two-team 2A conference, leaving a lot of non-conference games to play before the team’s lone conference game in Declo on October 20.
The greatest measure of this team likely won’t come in the standings or the stat sheet. It will come in watching the team progress, week to week, and seeing how much they’ve grown as a group and as individuals over the course of the season.