Orofino High School
Conference: 2A Central Idaho League
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Head Coach: Garett Bretz
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Record Last Year: 4-6
Luke Peterson, WR/DB, 12
Marc Taitano, RB/LB, 12
Jeremiah Powers, RB/LB, 12
Aurelio Morales, QB/LB, 12
Nick Hardin, OL/LB, 12
George Boling, WR/LB, 12
Ben Fowler, WR/DB, 12
Caleb Breedlove, OL/DL, 12
Kaleb Noah, OL/DL, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Matt West, QB
Eli McKnight, OL/DL
Kenny Miller, OL/DL
Photo By: Clayton Bunt - #2 Marc Taitano
Each year we ask head coaches about key losses from the previous season’s team. First-year Orofino head coach Garett Bretz, who was an assistant coach last season and knows the program well, didn’t hesitate when asked.
The first name he brought up is the man he’s replacing – long-time Orofino head coach Galen Kuykendall, who hung up the whistle and retired following last season.
“(He) committed so much time and effort over many years to the Maniac football program,” Bretz reasoned. “and (he) will be missed.”
From all appearances, Kuykendall left Bretz the pieces to put together a competitive football team in 2018. The Maniacs do lose two-way starters Eli McKnight and Kenny Miller in the trenches but return 270-pound powerhouse Caleb Breedlove along the front along with seniors Kaleb Noah and Nick Harden. That trio will be charged with opening holes on offense for senior running backs Marc Taitano and Jeremiah Powers. Taitano had a pair of touchdowns last fall in an early-season win over Nampa Christian.
Sophomore Brayden Turcott, who contributed on offense, defense and special teams as a freshman, should see an increased role as well.
The Maniacs will have to replace three-year starter Matt West at quarterback. Senior Aurelio Morales will move in from receiver to take over the role this fall and will have seniors Luke Peterson, George Bolling and Ben Fowler among his possible pass targets.
The Maniacs averaged over 25 points per game last fall but two of the three teams to hold Orofino under 20 points – Firth and Declo – wound up meeting for the 2A state championship.
Defensively, Orofino has a strong group of linebackers to build around in Bolling, Taitano, Powers and Hardin. That group will be charged with chasing down ballcarriers to get the ball back to Orofino’s offense. Much like the offense, that was only really limited by the state’s elite, the Maniac defense showed well against most opponents. Only Firth, Declo, Kellogg (3A), and Clarkston (a larger school from Washington) got past 28 points last season. With a new head coach and some changes to the staff, Bretz’s goal for his defense is pretty simple.
“Our goal, defensively, is to learn to be aggressive and rally to the football,” he said. “Our focus is to improve each day.”
There’s a good blend of youth and experience for Orofino this season, which leads to optimism along US Route 12, east of Lewiston.
“We are excited for the football season in general,” Bretz continued. “With a new coaching staff and system, we are looking forward to improving each day and working to continually get better.”
In the three-team Central Idaho League, there aren’t many secrets. The teams know each other well and they know what is on the line when they line up across the field from one another. Orofino will get rival Grangeville at home this season – the Maniacs were 4-1 on their home field last season – while traveling to St. Maries for its final regular season game on October 19. Each game is vital to each team’s postseason aspirations, so every snap is valuable. The Maniacs have a good chance to play football in November so the lessons learned and experience gained in September and October will be very important to Bretz, his staff and his players.