Head Coach: Roger Whalen
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 47 Years
Most Recently in Anaheim (CA)
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
Bubba Summers, RB/LB, 11
Tyce Pfefferkorn, QB, 11
Returning Players with Honors:
Bubba Summers, All-Leauge
Key Players lost from last year:
Carson Morrow, DE/P
Wade Schilling, OL/DL
Photo By: Clayton Bunt - #22 Bubba Summers
Incoming impact players:
Dylan Pickering, RB, 9
Written By: Will Hoenike
At this time last summer, Clearwater Valley head coach Roger Whalen might’ve known where the Kooskia Café was. But it’s doubtful he had enough time to stop in and order a Bucksnort Burger. By comparison, this summer was probably a lot easier.
Whalen, in his 47th season as a head football coach, arrived in Kooskia shortly before the start of the football season last summer, so the primary objective was to meet his players and get them ready to start the season. Now, entering his second season, Whalen and his squad can focus on the smaller things as we head into the 2018 season. Like, for instance, the Bucksnort Burger.
The program can also focus on its climb that has most of the White Pine League on alert coming into the season. The Rams are coming off of a four-win season and enters this season with designs on cracking .500 for the first time since 2013 and contending for a spot in the 1A Division 1 state playoffs.
How high the Rams soar could depend a lot on the backfield of junior quarterback Tyce Pfefferkorn and junior running back Bubba Summers. As a sophomore, Summers rushed for over 1,000 yards and Whalen would like to see his team continue to run the ball effectively. Whalen is also hoping the Pfefferkorn continues to improve and, as a result, the pass game becomes a consistent threat.
Clearwater Valley showed flashes of its potential in 2017, topping 50 points on offense three times and getting over 60 once. It showed similar promise on defense, holding four opponents to 14 points or less. With another year of experience for players like Pfefferkorn and Summers, fans start to get a sense of why the White Pine is taking notice of what is happening in Kooskia.
Summers and senior Ty Dominguez will man the inside linebacker positions on defense, but the Rams lose a pair of good defensive linemen in Carson Morrow and Wade Schilling. Juniors Davis McElroy, Christian Fabbi and Lane Schilling will fill roles in the Rams secondary.
You’ve probably picked up on another reason why the Rams have a lot of eyes on them coming into 2018. Summers, Pfefferkorn (and his brother, Tate), McElroy, Fabbi, Schilling … all juniors. It’s two years of this core getting bigger, stronger and faster. In all, Whalen had 15 players on his roster last fall that were either freshmen or sophomores. That group figures to only get better.
“I think we will be a little more competitive because of increased speed,” Whalen noted. “Tate Pfefferkorn and Christian Fabbi are capable of having breakout seasons.”
Could this be the season that the Rams return to the playoffs for the first time in nearly 20 years? In a word, yes. As usual, the White Pine is a difficult league, filled with tough opponents, but Clearwater Valley has playmakers, speed and experience. Like with nearly any football team, tackling on defense and limiting turnovers on offense will be big keys coming into the season for the Rams but there are enough pieces for Whalen and his assistant coach, Bob Brockie, to lead the team into November for the first time in a long time.
It won’t be easy. They won’t sneak up on anyone and there are plenty of tough opponents on the schedule, including a home contest against defending 1A Division 1 state champion Prairie on October 19. But the ability is there. If the wins follow, as many expect, a few Bucksnort Burgers may be in order to celebrate the success of 2018.