Head Coach: Matt Virgil
Years as Head Coach: 3rd Season
Record Last Year: 2-7
State Titles: None
Willie Nelson, QB, 11
Jordan Perez, WR/DB, 11
Dylan Virgil, RB/LB, 11
Ryker Beck, LB, 11
Kai Howell, WR/DB, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Willie Nelson – All-Conference
Jordan Perez – All-Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
Dillon Sorensen, TE/DE
Brock Saxton, QB
Austin Ford, RB/LB
Hunter Guthrie, OL/DL
Trey Howell, WR/DB
Gerohm Rihari, WR/DB
Bret Cooper, WR
Brand Piquet, OL/DL
Incoming impact players:
Tavyn Lords, RB, 11
Written By: Matt Harris
It’s been five seasons since the Bonneville Bees have reached the playoffs. They would love to end that drought in 2018. But they will have to navigate a new set of challenges in order to do so – namely, a new conference.
The Bees along with their District 93 counterparts, Hillcrest, have dropped to the 4A classification this season following the opening of the district’s third comprehensive high school, Thunder Ridge. With Thunder Ridge being a 5A sized school and drawing students from both Bonneville and Hillcrest, the student numbers for the Bees and Knights dropped them into Class 4A, where they will join Idaho Falls, Skyline, Blackfoot and newcomer Shelley to form the 4A High Country Conference.
“We lost a number of kids to Thunder Ridge this year, we have fewer kids this year but it has forced a number of our kids to step up and take on a greater role this year and perform,” said head coach Matt Virgil, now in his third season leading the team. “The kids have really come together. We are a smaller but tighter knit group this season. We have a few kids back from injury and are excited to see them on the field.”
Bonneville’s new conference, along with the rest of the 4A classification, will be a tough test for the Bees. League competition will be fierce and, should Bonneville reach the postseason, the state competition even fiercer.
This season, the Bees return seven starters on offense, a good number for a program seeking consistency. However, many big hitters within their offense from last season have graduated, meaning that new players will need to step up and fill the void.
Quarterback Willie Nelson will take the reigns of the offense following the graduation of Brock Saxton. He will have weapons to work with Dylan Virgil and Jordan Perez at running back and Kai Howell lining up at receiver. The Bees averaged 26.2 points per game last season.
“Our strength is our speed and skill position players,” said Virgil. “We want to be more consistent and play up-tempo.”
Defensively, Bonneville returns six starters including Perez and Howell at defensive back. Virgil and Ryker Beck will man the middle of the field at linebacker. In order to give themselves a better chance in their new conference, the green-and-gold will need to give up fewer points than they did a year ago. Last season, the Bees allowed 36.6 points per game.
“We hope to build on the experience from last season on defense,” said the coach. “Keep games close and give the team an opportunity to win.”
Virgil said that he feels consistency will be a major factor in their success this year.
“We need to be consistent on both sides of the ball and give effort every play. If we can do that – this team has the talent and ability to make a run at the playoffs this year.”
The 2018 season begins in earnest on Aug. 24 when Bonneville hosts Thunder Ridge, which will be the first ever game in Thunder Ridge’s history. The next week, the Bees travel to a different ‘Ridge’, when they visit Twin Falls to take on the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks on Aug. 31.
September opens with a non-conference game on the road against Rigby on Sept. 7. That will be followed by the 27th Civil War against Hillcrest on Sept. 14. Bonneville has not beaten Hillcrest since 2013 and has been staring at red goalposts at Thunder Stadium since that time. A win for the Bees would change them back to their preferred shade of green.
The Preston Indians make an appearance on the schedule on Sept. 21 when they visit the Bees. Bonneville then takes a quick trip southward to face new conference-foe Shelley on Sept. 28.
An important stretch of games opens October for Bonneville, with contests at home against Blackfoot on Oct. 5 and Skyline on Oct. 12, before concluding the regular season on the road against Idaho Falls on Oct. 18.