Head Coach: Cory Kramer
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Record Last Year: 1-8
State Titles: 1975
Donovan Varelman, RB, 12
Chris Durett, WR, 12
Ty Bateman, QB/SS, 11
Jake Jelinek, WR, 11
Matt Morgan, OL/DL, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Donovan Varelman, 2nd Team All-IML RB
Key Players lost from last year:
Chris Sabin, QB
Brady Bateman, TE
Kendall Stone, OL
Written By: Will Hoenike
In a way, youth will be served in Idaho’s northern-most football-playing community in 2018.
Coming off of a rough 2018, where the Bonners Ferry Badgers won just one game, fourth-year head coach Cory Kramer. But …
“We are pretty young this year,” Kramer admitted. “But a lot of the underclassmen have seen quite a bit of varsity action the last couple of years, so I expect some big things from them.”
Young players, many with experience. Those are two key ingredients to a step forward in 2018.
“We’re young but very athletic and unselfish, which I think is exciting and gives us, as coaches, a lot of options,” Kramer continued.
Kramer will move junior Ty Bateman under center to the quarterback position, replacing departed senior Chris Sabin. Bateman should have options aplenty when he drops back to throw with senior Chris Durett and junior Jake Jelinek both returning at the receiver position for the Badgers.
But the key to the offense may be senior Donovan Varelman. The 5-foot-10 Varelman received second-team All-Intermountain League as a junior and now, as a senior, he returns to the running back position. Kramer is hoping to produce more consistent running lanes for Varelman this fall after the team averaged just over 14 points per game last fall. The team topped 20 points just two times, including its win over Thompson Falls, Montana.
“(We) really need to be more consistent running the ball,” Kramer noted. “We were up and down last year.”
The defense will be anchored up front by junior defensive end Matt Morgan, Varelman at linebacker and Bateman returning to his strong safety position when he’s not calling signals on offense.
“Really, our speed should serve us well this year,” Kramer said. “We totally overhauled our defense with a new defensive coordinator.”
A new system and a new coordinator, Kevin Campbell, will breed strong competition for playing time on the defensive side of the ball. Campbell is moving up to the varsity level after coaching the Badgers’ junior varsity program last fall and is well-versed in the IML, claiming roots in Kellogg. He joins an otherwise experienced staff that includes Don Alt, Corey Richards, Dave Koon and the elder Chris Sabin.
The IML – for years – had been Timberlake’s personal playground with the rest of the league battling for the second spot in the 3A state playoffs. But, last fall, Kellogg broke through to win the IML title with Priest River claiming the second spot into the postseason. That has a lot of people thinking the league is as wide-open this fall as ever, including Kramer.
“Our league is as close as it has been in a long time,” Kramer said. “Last year was a perfect example of that.”
In a four-team league, a team gets either two home games in league play or two road games. Bonners Ferry gets the latter in 2018, traveling to Kellogg and to Timberlake while hosting Priest River on its home field.
In what amounts to a three-week season (in terms of playoff positioning), staying healthy during the non-conference is critical. With added experience, a fast start for the Badgers could push the team squarely into the IML conference race with a chance to qualify and advance in the postseason in November.