Hillcrest High School
Conference: 4A High Country Conference
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Head Coach: Kevin Meyer
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 37 Years Total Football Coaching Experience
24 Years as Head Coach
Record Last Year: 5-4
State Titles: 2008
Jordan Neuerburg, RB/LB, 12
Oakley Hussey, WR/CB, 12
Kyle Austin, QB/CB, 12
Seth Curtis, QB, 12
Ed Carle, OG/DE, 12
Brady Sainz, OG/LB, 12
Kanon Young, FB/OLB, 12
Josh Norman, WR/S, 12
Jordan Peterson, OLB/FB, 12
Trae Henry, WR/CB, 12
Dakota Yorgesen, OT/DE, 12
Ethan Hansen, WR/S, 12
Gavin Christensen, WR/CB, 12
Gutama Haws, WR/CB, 11
Jaxon Kutler, TE/OLB, 12
Jacob Brock, C/DE, 12
Matt Zollinger, OL/DL, 12
Taylor Crawford, NGB, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Jordan Neuerburg, RB - 1st Team All-Conference RB
Kyle Austin, QB/CB - 1st Team All-Conference DB
Ed Carle, OL/DL - 1st Team All-Conference OL
Brady Sainz, LB – 1st Team All-Conference LB
Oakley Hussey, Flex – HM All-Conference TE
Key Players lost from last year:
Derek Marlowe, WR
Devin Wernette, WR/KR/PR
Dalton Clark, QB
Justin Moore, RB
Photo By: Steve Conner - #25 Jordan Neuerburg
Written By: Matt Harris
It’s a new era of Hillcrest Knights football in Ammon in 2018.
Following the departure of head coach Jeff Marshall to Thunder Ridge to establish and begin their football program, the Knights now turn to veteran coach Kevin Meyer to usher in the new era.
Meyer, who has spent 37 years coaching football, including 24 seasons as a head coach, comes to Hillcrest following a two-year stint as the lead man at Beatrice High School in Nebraska.
The Knights, who drop down to the 4A classification this season due to the opening of Thunder Ridge, bring back plenty of talent and should be a contender for the conference crown. The players they have in tow on the 2018 roster should fit well within Meyer’s I-formation offense.
“We run multiple sets from 2-back, 3-back to 1-back sets,” he said. “We return a good number of players with varsity experience, especially our skill players.” Meyer added that many players on the roster are three-year starters.
That group of skill players is led by Jordan Neuerburg, a First Team All-Conference selection a year ago. His skills should translate extremely well to the new offense.
“Jordan will be a key player in our offense, both as a downhill runner and also as a threat in the passing game as a receiver,” Meyer said, adding that they hope to develop depth at running back.
Taylor Sloan and Kanon Young will both see time at fullback for the Knights, along with Jordan Peterson. Oakley Hussey, a do-it-all player for Hillcrest, will move around within Meyer’s offense from wide receiver to slot receiver and will also back up Neuerburg at running back.
The passing game will be pivotal for balance within the offense and the Knights will look to use receivers Josh Norman, Gutama Hawk, and Trae Henry in the passing game. Both Ethan Hansen and Gavin Christensen will also see time at wideout. Jaxon Kutler will anchor the tight end position.
“We have very good skill players at both receiver positions, so we will need to get the ball to our playmakers,” said Meyer.
As for the quarterback position, the coach said that junior Seth Curtis and senior Kyle Austin are competing for the starting job. A starter has not been named as of yet.
An area that the Knights hope to improve on in 2018 is their offensive line play. Fortunately for Hillcrest fans, they have plenty of experience returning to the offensive line which should assist in their rate of improvement. Look for Ed Carle, Brady Sainz, Dakota Yorgesen, Jacob Brock, and Matt Zollinger to lead the way in the trenches.
Meyer is expecting big things from that department this season.
“We want to improve our physicality and execution on the line with our pass protection and physical run game,” he said.
Defensively, the coach added that the keys to success for their defensive line were much the same.
“We need physicality in all aspects, especially with our run defense,” he said. “All of our players need to understand their role with our defense and to trust each other.”
Hillcrest will operate out of a 3-4 base defense this season. Meyer believes the secondary is a strong point with much experience returning, including Austin, Haws, Henry, and Christensen competing at cornerback while Norman, Hansen, and Hussey will all see time at safety. Hussey is expected to also play cornerback at times.
In the linebacking corps, Sainz, Neuerburg, Taylor Sloan and Trevor Powell will look to anchor the inside linebacker positions while Peterson, Young, and Kutler will lead the way at outside linebacker.
The defensive line is manned by a plethora of returning players, including Yorgesen, Carle, Brock, Zollinger, Spencer Astel, Dallin Caldwell, Preston Williams, and Taylor Crawford.
As a couple of area coaches mentioned earlier this year, “Hillcrest should be a contender… they look loaded.”
While the 2018 season certainly is promising for the Knights, Meyer says they will only go as far as they are willing to be meticulous in their preparations all across the board.
“Preparation is a standard we will embrace and expect from all of our players and coaches. It’s all about our players and coach finding their role and giving their best effort every day in practice, in the film room, and on game night. I believe if we can all work together and strive to improve each day, we will have a great season,” said Meyer.
Hillcrest kicks off the new campaign with a first in their program’s history – an appearance in the Rocky Mountain Rumble football showcase. They will face Wyoming football power Star Valley on Aug. 25 at Holt Arena.
The Knights then travel northward to Rexburg to face a talented Madison team on Aug. 31. Conference play then begins on Sept. 7 when they welcome Idaho Falls to Thunder Stadium. That game will precede the 27th Civil War when Hillcrest takes on Bonneville on Sept. 14.
A non-conference away contest against Rigby awaits the Knights in Week 5 on Sept. 21. That will be followed by a game which could have major implications on the conference race when Hillcrest welcomes two time defending 4A state champion Skyline to Thunder Stadium on Sept. 28. The Knights will also face Shelley at home on Oct. 4.
The regular season schedule wraps up with a date in Blackfoot on Oct. 12 and the season finale against Thunder Ridge on Oct. 19.
“We have a very tough schedule and will need to work hard as a team and staff to have a successful season,” said Meyer, who added that players and coaches alike have done a great job thus far in their preparation for the season, calling it “outstanding”.
“I’ve been impressed with the hunger of our kids to get better each day, but we all understand that we have a great amount of work to do this fall to be successful.”
Hard work seems to be a mantra of Coach Meyer and what he wants to instill into the Hillcrest football program as he takes over the reigns. When asked what his main goals were for his first season in Ammon, Meyer responded with four simple, yet important principles.
“Do you best, do what’s right, treat others with respect, and be the most physical team,” he said. “If we can master all of these above goal, we will have a great season.”
Hillcrest looks to be in great position to turn some heads around the state this season. The faster they can gel together as a cohesive unit and nail down the principles that Meyer and his staff are teaching, the more dangerous this Knights team will become.