Head Coach: Travis Hobson
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: Shelley Head Coach, 3 Years
Shelley Assistant, 8 Years
Record Last Year: 6-5
State Titles: 2001, 2002, 2004
(Returning Varsity Starters Listed)
Adam Ames, LB, 12
Cole McKinlay, DB, 12
Deshun Harwell, DB, 12
Carter Clifford, LB, 12
Hudson Williams, WR, 12
Joey Newman, DL, 12
Anthony Land, OL, 12
Mason Ralphs, OL, 12
Alex Apel, OL, 12
Cody Johnston, OL, 12
Jackson Yearsley, RB, 12
Mike Branson, RB, 12
Kam Dailami, P, 12
Nathan Manning, QB, 11
Dillon Samana, LB, 11
D’Qua Lang, DL, 11
Drew Gunter, WR, 11
Titan Fleischmann, TE, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Kam Dailami, All-State 1st Team, All-Conference 1st Team, Punter
Mike Branson, All-Conference 1st Team, RB, All-Conference 2nd Team, LB
Titan Fleischmann, All-Conference 1st Team, TE
Cole McKinlay, All-Conference 1st Team, DB
Anthony Land, All-Conference 2nd Team, OL
Adam Ames, All-Conference 2nd Team, DB
Key Players lost from last year:
Ben Ditton, DB. Was All-State DB that held the secondary together. Was voted team MVP and All-Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Coleton Adamson, WR. Big playmaker down the playoff stretch and was difficult to cover in space.
Travis White, LB. Emotional leader of the defense and a very instinctive linebacker.
Photo By: Kelly Magee - #1 Deshun Harwell
Incoming impact players:
Jovan Sowell, WR, 10
Carson Zink, DE, 11
Tyson Shipley, DE, 11
Devin Shelske, DE, 11
Nate Burt, DB, 12
Carter Scott, DB, 12
Written By: Matt Harris
When a team is young and full of youth, one may not expect that team to have a large set of expectations upon it for that season. But Century head coach Travis Hobson knew that the 2017 season may have been the most important season yet in his program from the standpoint of long-term success despite that youth.
To say that 2017 was a smashing success would be an understatement. The Diamondbacks amassed a 6-5 record after only going 1-8 the year prior and also qualified for the 4A state tournament as the second seed from District 5-6, falling to eventual runner-up Minico in the state quarterfinals.
“We were hopeful that we would be competitive down the stretch last season with a young team that we know would almost entirely be back this season,” said Hobson, now in his 4th season as head coach at Century. “Last season was designed to be a building block for this season and beyond. Last season we surpassed expectations and surprised some people.”
The Diamondbacks know that they won’t have the ability to sneak up on teams this season. They showed their abilities and talent in a major way in 2017 and will look to add to the repertoire in 2018.
“With the experience comes high expectations and our guys know it,” Hobson said. “They have worked all summer like it.”
He added that summer and offseason workouts have greatly benefitted the players this year and that the results should hopefully show in Week 1.
“Going to camp early set up with a road map to what we needed to develop throughout the summer. Our guys are bigger and stronger than they were last season and the summer has proven to be another means to build team camaraderie,” said Hobson, who noted that over a dozen of his players spent the summer touring the country to compete at college camps. “We were able to structure our 7-on-7’s and other competitions with the right people to keep us focused on what matters most. Overall, this summer was just what this team needed.”
Century returns 17 starters to the field this year, all of whom gained valuable experience during last season’s campaign and hope to be able to add to it in 2018. Offensively, the Diamondbacks bring back 10 players who started in game last year and anticipate that they will continue to grow together into a formidable attack.
“Our receiving corps will average 6’2” or bigger, the line will go at least 250 lbs across the front, we’ll feature a 6’5”, 225 lb sophomore tight end with a Division-I offer (Titan Fleischmann), a stable of running backs, and a returning starter at quarterback,” Hobson said. “We have experience and size and an ability to run the ball efficiently and control the clock, while being able to stretch the field vertically as needed.”
Nathan Manning will guide the offense from under center and will have plenty of weapons to work with. Look for Hudson Williams and Drew Gunter to make a big impact at wide receiver, with Jovan Sowell seeing field time. Fleischmann will garner some targets as well. Mike Branson and Jackson Yearsley will lead the way from the backfield at running back.
Plenty of experience returns on the offensive line as well, with Anthony Land, Mason Ralphs, Alex Apel, and Cody Johnston leading the way up front.
Hobson hopes that with the experience his team has gained that they will be able to translate that into more efficiency on offense – with less mistakes.
“We need to limit the mental errors and the turnovers that accompany poor choices,” he said. “We would like to see a more disciplined team offensively.”
Defensively, Century’s strengths again begin with the size and experience they possess.
“We bring back seven starters on the defensive side of the ball and another half-dozen players with significant experience,” said Hobson. “Cole McKinlay and Deshun Harwell will anchor the backfield and we’re having Adam Ames move from safety to outside linebacker in the 4-3 base look.”
He added that Carter Clifford and Dillon Samana will lock down the linebacking corps along with Ames, with Nate Burt and Carter Scott completing the secondary. D’Qua Lang, a 6’3”, 260 lb junior tackle with a Division-I offer on the table, will headline their defensive line, along with returning starter Joey Newman. They will be joined by two defensive ends yet to be named.
“We have four guys fighting for the two spots on the line and competition has been entertaining this summer,” Hobson said, noting that contributions will be expected of defensive ends Tyson Shipley, Devin Shelske, and Carson Zink. Kam Dailami, an All-State selection at punter last year, is expected to have a big impact in the field position battle.
One of the biggest aspects of defense that the Century coaching staff preaches is discipline, which is something that they believe they can achieve through less complex playcalling.
“We have to avoid giving up big plays in critical situations. The defensive staff simplified the scheme in the offseason and are asking their guys to play loose and to let athletes be athletes,” Hobson said. “Experience will definitely play a big role in the defense this season.”
The vision that Hobson has for the Century program is starting to come to fruition as the Diamondbacks are now able to send 22 different starters out onto the field. That has helped spark the competition that good football teams need to succeed and has given the players plenty of motivation and self-ownership for the way they play.
“My coaches are getting after each other and the players seeing the competition within our staff. Weight room records have been set almost daily. More than anything, the players are fueling themselves now,” Hobson said. “With minimal sarcasm, as coaches we merely had to roll a football out all summer and the guys have done the rest. Our players care about each other and in a “more-than-football” kind of way. All of the puzzle pieces are organized and on the table and we’ve already framed the edged. The only thing left to do is to put it together.”
Putting it together may be the hardest part. With so many moving pieces that interconnect and are dependent on each other, finding the right flow will be the key to success in 2018. How does Century hope to accomplish that? Through discipline and longevity.
“We recognize that getting help from outside of our organization isn’t in the pipeline – it’s “us against the world”, so we need not beat ourselves,” Hobson said. “We can’t afford to put ourselves in bad situations, players and coaches alike. We also have to concern ourselves with health and the ability to compete for 15 weeks.”
Century has challenged themselves this season in their non-conference schedule and hopes that it will pay off down the line once November rolls around. The Diamondbacks begin the 2018 season by playing in the Rocky Mountain Rumble at Holt Arena against the defending Utah 4A state champion Orem Tigers, who Hobson said features more Division-I athletes on their roster than any team in Idaho.
Week 2 brings a matchup on the road against Idaho Falls, a team that could contend for a blue trophy this year according to Hobson. Century then opens conference play in the new Great Basin Conference with a crosstown matchup against Pocatello on Sept. 7, followed by another home date with Preston on Sept. 14.
The Diamondbacks travel to Burley to face the Bobcats on Sept. 21 in conference play, a team that Hobson says has youth but a lot of talent that could surprise. Century then returns to the comfy confines of Holt Arena for three straight contests, against Twin Falls on Sept. 28, Highland on Oct. 4, and Minico on Oct. 12. They then finish the season on the road at Jerome on Oct. 19.
“Without a ‘cupcake week’ on the schedule, we feel like we’ll be battle hardened and ready for a run at delaying the basketball and wrestling seasons on campus should we maintain our health through those nine weeks,” Hobson said.
Century’s affiliation with a new conference also bring intrigue to the schedule. After competing in the District 5-6 combined conference for the last six seasons, the Diamondbacks along with Pocatello and Preston now join the Great Basin Conference in conjunction with District 4 teams. Hobson believes the change in conferences will provide stability and better opportunities for athletes at Century.
“It benefits us by changing the scenery,” he said. “We’ll have an opportunity to maintain what few rivalries are left as well as rekindle a few old ones. Because of our affiliation, we will have a larger share of playoff berths available to our team too.”
If there is one thing that the coaching staff at Century has tried to establish in terms of culture, it all boils down to competitiveness – they want their student-athletes to be have that competitive drive on the football field, in the classroom, and in life. The benefits are showing certainly on the football field and Hobson hopes that those lessons learned will have a major impact on the way his team conducts themselves once the pads are put away for good.
“Over the years, we’ve had to ask ourselves what value bullets we want to load our proverbial guns with, and the only value we all agree on, as a coaching staff is competitiveness,” he said. “Respect, accountability, discipline, heritage, team, earn, learn, burn or anything else that rhymes… they’re all great bumper stickers and a catchy phrase to put on the back of a t-shirt. But really, it’s all about the competition.”
“Every Friday night, a bunch of teams win and a bunch of teams lose. We track those winners and at some point the losers go do something else. That’s life. Trying to get into a good college? So are a bunch of other folks. Someone is going to win and some are going to lose. Good job? Elected office? New home? Significant other? Everything one person wants, someone else wants too right down to the line you choose to check out at the grocery store. We’re trying to teach that concept through football. Get the highest grade in class. Be the first to school. Be the first to practice. Lift the most weight. Jump the highest. Complete the most passes. Run for the most yards. Knock the most opposing players to the ground. If you don’t, someone else will. We just want to have a program full of competitors.”
Those teams who face Century the season best be prepared and ready – the Diamondbacks will certainly give opponents plenty of fits this year and they won’t back down from the challenge. And they won’t stop coming after you.