Head Coach: Jeb Harrison
Years as Head Coach: 3rd Season
Previous Experience: Assistant at Pocatello – 2003-2015
Offensive Coordinator at Century – 2016
Record Last Year: 7-3
State Titles: '90, '95, '96, '98, '99, '00, '01, '02, '11, '14
Treyton Young, RB, 11
Gunner Ramsdall, RB, 12
Anthony T. Harrison, C, 12
Baylor Gilbert, G, 12
Boden Palmer, WR/DB, 12
Ty Belnap, OL/DL, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Treyton Young, RB – 1st Team All-State RB
Anthony T. Harrison – All-Conference
Ty Belnap – All-Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
Carson Dance – 1st Team All-State WR
Kade Mortensen – 1st Team All-State DB
Jace White – 1st Team All-State OL
Larry Hubler – 2nd Team All-State OL
James Clegg – 2nd Team All-State LB
Ceaton Howell – 1st Team All-State DE
Austin Young – 1st Team All-State P
Clancy Thomas, WR
Photo By: Steve Conner - #2 Treyton Young
Incoming impact players:
Taylor Scott, OL, 11
Written By: Matt Harris
Snake River enters the 2018 season looking to continue the momentum they built coming off of last year’s state runner-up finish. If that momentum is to continue, however, it will have to be led by a relatively young group of Panthers.
“We only return 10 seniors, but half of those seniors have varsity level experience,” said head coach Jeb Harrison, now in his third season leading the football program at Snake River. “We do have a really strong junior class. More than half of our starters this season will be underclassmen.”
The Panthers will be forced to replace 17 senior starters who played big roles in their run to the state championship game last season, including seven All-State selections. Harrison acknowledged that the Panthers are still coming together as a cohesive unit at this point, but that the goal is to be running like a well-oiled machine by the latter stages of the season.
“It will be ‘baptism by fire’ for the underclassmen starting out,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that we will have growing pains early on, but I think towards the end of the season we will be right where we need to be.”
Snake River returns only two offensive starters this season, meaning the new starters will need to gel quickly in Harrison’s Wing-T base offense. The Panthers showed last season that they are not afraid to line up in multiple formations and spread the ball out – and they plan on continuing that trend this season.
“We have solid runners and will rely on our play action game for big plays,” said Harrison.
Treyton Young and Gunner Ramsdell will lead the way in the backfield. Boden Palmer will anchor the wide receivers corps. Anthony T. Harrison, Baylor Gilbert, and Ty Belnap will be leaned on for leadership on the offensive line. Junior Kolby Cox will man the tight end position.
The question mark facing the Panthers will be the quarterback position. Junior Bridger Wray and sophomore Mitch Lyndsey are battling for the starting job. But Harrison is confident in both players.
“Both of them lack varsity experience, but competition will make them both better,” he said.
Only two returning starters are back on the defensive side of the ball for Snake River this season, meaning new starters will have to quickly catch up to varsity level speed. Harrison said that Belnap along with Rogelio Caldera represent the only experience returning to the defense, but they will be looked to for leadership.
He added that they have two main points they want to improve on defensively this year.
“We need to create more takeaways and we need to stop the run better than last year as well,” he said.
With Snake River coming off of a state runner-up finish last season, it’s easy to assume that expectations would increase for the next season, despite the youth movement. Harrison said that at Snake River, those expectations are always there.
“There is some pressure to win here at Snake River. That is a given and it comes with the territory. I understood that coming in,” he said.
Of course, name association may or may not play a factor too. Jeb’s father, Tom, put Snake River on the map in the 90’s and early 2000’s winning eight state titles, including five in a row from 1998-2002. The Panthers had winning streaks of 34 and 54 games, respectively, the longest public school streak at the time.
Harrison said he isn’t worried about trying to accomplish the same sort of feats his father did, as a way to “keep up with” or “follow in the footsteps” of his father.
“I don’t think a team will ever go on a run like Tom did in the 90’s,” he said. “I think those are unreasonable expectations to put on yourself. I don’t worry about trying to live up to his legacy. I’m just concerned about winning this season.”
Fortunately for Harrison, Snake River always seems to have a large pool of talented players coming through the pipeline. He credits that benefit to his staff and the community as a whole.
“Our high school program hovers around 70-80 players each year. We have a solid youth program that our high school staff works with to prep them for Friday nights,” he said. “We have great support in the community for football.”
He also credits his father for building the culture of the youth programs.
“The fact that we have great youth programs and turnout for them is a direct reflection of the time and energy Tom put into it years ago. I benefit from it more than anyone. So the expectations that we have at Snake River to be competing for championships are justified.”
The Panthers 2018 schedule kicks off with back-to-back road games starting on Aug. 24 when Snake River visits Kimberly, followed by a trip northward to Sugar City to face the Sugar-Salem Diggers on Aug. 31.
Following a bye week, Snake River will play all of their home games in four consecutive weeks. The Panthers host Gooding on Sept. 14, South Fremont on Sept. 21, Teton on Sept. 28, and then conclude their homestand against conference-foe Marsh Valley on Oct. 5.
The schedule wraps up with road games against American Falls on Oct. 12 and Preston on Oct. 19.
Harrison said that he expects to know a lot about his team early on in the season.
“We knocked off Kimberly and Gooding in the playoffs last year. I’m sure they haven’t forgotten. Sugar-Salem returns a lot of kids this year. We will know really quick if our young guys are ready to step up to the challenge,” he said.
Snake River has won the last six South East Idaho Conference championships, but the competition in their league continues to improve.
“Coach Armstrong at Marsh Valley continues to improve that program. His youth programs are flourishing. I watched his team in summer camp and I think that is the best team Marsh Valley has had in awhile,” said Harrison. “American Falls also hit a home run in hiring Cory Hollingsworth. He will definitely improve their program.”
With the way the playoffs currently operate, the last two games are the most important ones of the season – they determine who moves on to the playoffs and who stays home. If Snake River can find their bearings and get the new starters acclimated to the varsity level, the Panthers will certainly have a good shot at a seventh straight conference crown.