Head Coach: Colter Evans
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Record Last Year: 1-8
State Titles: None
Jager Lee (OC)
Thomas Nielson, WR/DB, 12
James Seelos, WR/DB, 12
Brock Thompson, QB/DB, 12
Todd Hunsaker, RB/LB, 11
Lane Barnes, OT/DT, 12
Connor Viele, OG/DT, 12
Key Players lost from last year:
Hunter Bybee, C/NG
Jeremiah Hansen, OL/DE
Taylor Adams, WR/LB
Jacob Housley, OL
Photo By: Kyle Riley - #7 Todd Hunsaker
Incoming impact players:
Payton Lish, C/DE, 12
Hunter Bowen, WR/DB, 12
Dustin Thomson, DE, 11
Scott Hunsaker, WR/LB, 10
Written By: Matt Harris
The Soda Springs Cardinals turn to a new face in 2018 to rebuild their football program.
Colter Evans, a 2008 graduate of Soda Springs and former player, is the man in charge now and says that there is no quick fix – it’s going to take a lot of work.
“Major changes and success don’t come overnight and we don’t expect that. However, major changes do come as a result of hard work and preparation and none of us fear those two things,” said Evans. “So for us it is just a matter of working, preparing, and getting better each and every day. If we focus on each day, and control the thing that we can control, things will get better for our football program.”
The signs are already pointing to more enthusiasm for the football program and more chances for success based on the Cardinals summer workouts.
“The boys have put in a lot of hard work in the weight room and running springs on the field. Obviously, we have seen results in improved strength, size, and speed, but the greatest improvement has been confidence amongst the boys,” Evans said. “This summer, they have learned that they can do hard things and overcome challenges. As a coaching staff, we are very proud with the summer that our team has had.”
The staff has consistently hammered home the mantra of work – and they know that the work put in over the summer will benefit them not only in mindset, but in the ability to fend off injury.
“Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and the boys are starting to understand that. They have worked hard all summer and now we will see if we can carry that into the season,” said Evans. “Additionally, we definitely felt the injury bug last season. It will be very important for us to do everything we can to stay healthy this year. Obviously, football is a violent sport and injuries happen but we can certainly do a better job at preventing injuries and fixing minor injuries before they become major.”
Evans says that he has plenty of experience players coming back to this year’s squad and that they want to get after the goals of the team.
“We have a large senior class this year that is hungry to turn things around. I am excited to watch how they lead and work to make those goals become a reality,” he said.
Back in the fold this year is quarterback Brock Thompson, who will lead the way from under center. Todd Hunsaker will be by his side at running back, with Thomas Nielson, Hunter Bowen, Scott Hunsaker, and James Seelos on the outside at receiver. Lane Barnes and Connor Viele will anchor the offensive line, along with Payton Lish.
The Cardinals are focusing their offensive attack on the skill they feel they possess the most of – speed.
“Our overall team speed is our offensive strength,” said Evans. “We have decent speed at every single position, the key is utilizing that speed to our advantage.”
The coach was not shy in his remarks about improvements the offense will need to make in order to be successful.
“Last year, we had an offense that averaged less than seven points per game, so truthfully we need to improve across the board offensively,” he said. “Having said that, it all starts up front with the boys in the trenches. We’ve preached all summer long during workouts that the offense will go as far as the offensive line takes us. So, that is where we hope to improve the most because we fell that as they improve, our entire offense will improve.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Barnes, Lish, and Viele along with Dustin Thomsen will lead the way on the line, with Todd and Scott Hunsaker manning the middle of the field at linebacker. The secondary returns plenty of experience with Nielson, Seelos, Thompson, and Bowen.
“Our team speed and football IQ are our strengths defensively. We will use our speed and football IQ to confuse and pursue the ball,” said Evans, who added that a point of emphasis in camp has been the need to force turnovers and solid tackling.
“We all know the game of football comes down to who blocks and tackles best and who makes the fewest mistakes,” he said. “If we tackle well and cause some key turnovers, we will improve our chances of winning.”
Soda Springs gets rolling with their 2018 slate of games slightly later than most. This year, the Cardinals will take an extra week to prepare before opening the year at home against Firth on Aug. 31.
“It’s not every year that you get to start your season off with the defending state runner-up,” Evans said of Firth. “We are really excited to open our season [against them] as we feel it will be a great way for us to see where we are at as a team.”
The Cardinals will host Ririe on Sept. 7, followed by a long journey northward to face North Fremont in Ashton on Sept. 14. League play in the South East Idaho Conference then begins on Sept. 21 when Soda Springs travels to Malad. The Cardinals have beaten Malad three straight years and represent the only win on the schedule in each of those years.
Soda Springs hosts Bear Lake on Sept. 28 before venturing back into non-conference play on the road against American Falls on Oct. 5. The season concludes with two tough games: Oct. 12 at Aberdeen and Oct. 18 at home against West Side.