Head Coach: Jim Newton
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Record Last Year: 5-3
State Titles: None
Trey Yearsley, RB/LB, 12
Eli Call, OL/DL, 12
Garrett Jensen, OL/DL, 12
Stockton Johnson, WR/RB/DB, 12
Arik Zeller, RB/DB, 12
Tyson Thacker, RB/LB, 11
Jonathan Scott, RB/LB, 12
Gabe Sommers, TE/LB, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Garrett Jensen – 1st Team All-Conference DL
Arik Zeller – 1st Team All-Conference CB
Key Players lost from last year:
Jace Johnson, WR/LB
Ryker Parkinson, QB/LB
Rustin Rinderknecht, RB/LB
Incoming impact players:
Gabe Sommers, TE/LB, 10
Tory Criddle, QB/CB, 11
Carter Smith, QB/LB, 10
Written By: Matt Harris
The Ririe Bulldogs have resurrected their long dormant football program.
Under Jim Newton, now in his fourth season, the Bulldogs have gone from 1-7 in 2015, to 4-4 in 2016, to 5-3 in 2017. The long-term future looks bright in Ririe.
Unfortunately, a 5-3 record was not good enough for the Bulldogs to reach the playoffs a year ago. In last year’s Nuclear Conference, four teams tied with a 5-3 record but Ririe received the short end of the stick due to a complicated tiebreaker within the conference. With the district receiving only three bids to the state tournament, it meant that one really good team was going to be left out of the playoff picture.
Ririe’s omission from the state tournament was a primary factor in the state’s 2A coaches voting to implement a new playoff format using a ‘Ratings Percentage Index’ or RPI for short. The system uses winning percentages for each team, their opponents, and their opponents’ opponents in a formula to determine strength of schedule and overall ranking.
Had the state used this formula last season, the Bulldogs would certainly have reached the playoffs, along with three of their conference counterparts. Many coaches in 2A feel that this new system will be an upgrade and long term benefit to football in Idaho.
“I like it,” said Newton, referring to the new RPI system. “It will stop teams from getting in the play-in rounds without truly earning it. It should create a more competitive playoff.”
Newton’s club now looks to show their progress as a program despite losing a few key players, including Ryker Parkinson, Jace Johnson, and Rustin Rinderknecht.
Ririe brings back plenty of talent though, including Arik Zeller and Garrett Jensen, both of whom were All-Conference nods last season. Look for Stockton Johnson, Trey Yearsley, and Jonathan Scott to operate as “running back by committee”, with sophomore Gabe Sommers manning the tight end position. Tyson Thacker and Eli Call will help anchor the line.
The starting quarterback job is still up in the air, but Newton says what he is seeing is promising.
“Our quarterback battle is good and they are pushing each other,” he said. “Our team is quick and explosive.”
The blue-and-yellow will kick off their 2018 campaign on Aug. 24 with a trip to Afton, Wyoming to face the Star Valley Braves junior varsity team. Ririe opens their home slate of games against Malad on Aug. 31, before traveling southward to face Soda Springs on Sept. 7. The Bulldogs complete their non-conference schedule at home against West Side on Sept. 14.
Play in the Nuclear Conference begins on Sept. 21 when Ririe hosts Firth. They then travel westward to face West Jefferson on Sept. 28, followed by senior night at home against Salmon on Oct. 5. Following a bye week, the Bulldogs complete their regular season schedule on the road in Ashton against North Fremont on Oct. 19.