Head Coach: Lane Kirkland
Years as Head Coach: 18th Season
Previous Experience: 1 Year at Oakley (1998)
Record Last Year: 12-0, State Champion
State Titles: '94, '98, '06, '08, '10, '17
Lane Durtschi, 13 Years
Jake Nilsen, 5 Years
John Saili, 3 Years
Porter Mecham, RB/LB, 12
Carson Simpson, DE, 11
Hunter Simpson, S, 10
Omar Morales, OL/DL/K, 12
Bryan Vargas, OL/DL, 12
Dallin Parke, DE, 10
Porter Larna, LB, 11
Brigham Parke, TE, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Porter Mecham, 1AD2 State Player of the Year
Key Players lost from last year:
Houston Hennefer, QB
Kaden Koudelka, TE/LB
DJ Parke, LB
Tanner Mecham, TE/LB
Trevor Kirkland, C
Hilario Ruiz, RB/S
"These guys were all such great leaders and teammates. They were a tight bunch," Coach Kirkland.
Photo By: Steve Conner - #49 Porter Mecham
Written By: Sven Alskog
Carey had quite the run to a state title in 2017, with the only game decided by less than 20 points being a 50-42 victory in the championship game against Tri-Valley.
That group of Panthers led by seniors Houston Hennefer, Kaden Koudelka, DJ Parke, Tanner Mecham, Trevor Kirkland and Hilario Ruiz were as fun to watch as any team in across all classifications in Idaho. The fact that all that talent resided in Carey, a town of 604 people as of the most recent census, shows that you never know where star athletes can be born.
Over the years Carey has consistently been a power on the football field, winning four state titles over the first 17 seasons with Lane Kirkland as the head coach.
As the Panthers get set to embark on a new year, a younger, but still extremely talented, group hopes to keep the success going within the program.
“We are excited to have this younger group that has loads of potential, lots of numbers and loves to play football. We love these kids and are looking forward to coaching them up. Our focus will be totally on our team, taking it one game at a time and working towards improvement,” said Kirkland.
Reigning 1AD2 State Player of the Year Porter Mecham returns to highlight the senior class. A running back on offense and linebacker on defense, Mecham ran for 1,176 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns and six receiving scores, adding 109 tackles on the other side of the ball.
Beyond Mecham, plenty of different faces will see an increase in their role this year.
The defense has quality talent on the line and in the linebacker core, with Carson Simpson, Omar Morales, Bryan Vargas and Dallin Parke leading the charge up front. Mecham and Porter Larna will be the men in the middle.
“We have some great young hitters and some big guys to plug holes. I really liked our aggression in camp and anticipate that to carry us. We have some really quick kids that I think are going to be very disruptive on defense. These young kids really had a lot of reps at the varsity level. In several games these kids filled in without us missing a beat,” added Kirkland.
For Carey, the big focus will be on the defensive backfield.
“We have some veterans to replace in the secondary. With a little time and some serious reps, our communication on defense will come along just fine,” said Kirkland.
Hunter Smith is a sophomore safety who will be a staple of the back-end of the defense.
A constant over the years for the Panthers has been the offensive side of the ball. With Mecham returning to lead the way on that side of the ball too, there should not be much concern that this team will be able to pile on points yet again despite the losses.
To complement the talented running back, tight end Brigham Parke will give whoever lines up under center a good target to hit down the field and on dump offs.
“We have a lot of quickness in all our skill positions and guard spots to replace that awesome group of eight seniors from last year. I really like the aggression and toughness that this young group has. They are very hungry. We had 32 kids at camp,” added Kirkland.
He acknowledges that there will be a growth process towards the beginning of the season.
“We have a lot of spots to fill from last year. We will have a lot of work [to do] getting our execution and communication levels up to perfection.”
The defending 1AD2 state champions begin their quest for a repeat in week one at Castleford.