Head Coach: Rich Bishop
Years as Head Coach: 6th Season
Previous Experience: 15 years as assistant at Kimberly
Record Last Year: 10-2
State Titles: None
Dawson Cummins, 12, QB/WR/DB
AJ Garrell, 12, OL/LB
Brandt Etherington, 12, FB/DL
McKade Huft, 12, RB
Trace Mayo, 11, DL/LB
Brett Bronson, 11, WR/DB
Returning Players with Honors:
McKade Huft, 1st Team All-State (Conference Offensive Player of the Year)
AJ Garrell, 2nd Team All-State (Conference Defensive Player of the Year)
Austin Walker, 1st Team All-State
Brett Bronson, All-Conference
Dawson Cummins, All-Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
WR/DB Blake Phillips – All-State player on offense and defense
OL/DL Nate Bybee & Rex Ward
QB Braxton Hammond
LB Hunter Oberg
WR/DL Tristyn O’Donnell
Photo By: Kelly Magee - McKade Huft
Incoming impact players:
Riley Mickelson, 11, RB/LB
Trevor Christensen, 11, RB/LB
Caelix Jones, 11, OL/DE
Heath Owens, 10, QB/WR/DB
Race Widmeir, 10, RB/DB
Written By: Will Hoenike
Perhaps one of the defining moments of the 2018 high school football season in Idaho happened in Kimberly when Bulldog running back McKade Huft punched the ball into the end zone as time expired to lift Kimberly to a dramatic, 37-35, win over two-time defending state champion Fruitland in the 3A quarterfinals.
Huft finished that game with 40 carries for over 150 yards and two scores, with his second score including a brief moment where every eye was on the officials to see if the runner crossed the plane of the goal line.
He did, en route to earning the South Central Idaho Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and 3A 1st Team All-State accolades. When it was all said and done, Huft totaled more than 2,000 yards of total offense and 30 touchdowns.
Huft will be back this fall for his senior year in the hopes of finishing the climb that has seen the Bulldogs reach at least the 3A quarterfinals each of the past three seasons.
“We have a solid running game with McKade and (senior) Brandt (Etherington) and other depth at running back,” head coach Rich Bishop said. “We need to replace some wideouts and targets down the field in the passing game.”
Also to be determined is who takes the reins as the team’s full-time quarterback. Gone is Braxton Hammond. Senior Dawson Cummins could see time behind center in 2019, but Bishop also has talented sophomore Heath Owens. Whichever isn’t playing quarterback could spend time at receiver to help the passing game that way.
It’s an offense that put up an eye-popping 547 points last fall and was only held under 30 one time. While the Bulldogs are looking to find depth at receiver, Bishop and his staff do have a pair of all-conference seniors back in the fold in Cummins (if he’s not playing quarterback) and junior Brett Bronson. The offensive line will be led by senior AJ Garrell with junior Caelix Jones looking to take one of the spots along the offensive front as well.
The Bulldog defense was by no means bad in 2018, but the team did get gashed in lopsided losses to eventual state champions Declo (2A) and Sugar Salem (3A). Bishop would like to see continued improvement in the team’s defensive secondary as well as replacing capable players like Nate Bybee, Rex Ward, Hunter Oberg, and Tristyn O’Donnell.
The team appears to have good depth at linebacker. Garrell, who earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award last fall, headlines a group that includes senior Mark Thompson as well as juniors Trace Mayo, Riley Mickelson, and Trevor Christensen. Mayo could also see time at defensive end after a good offseason in the weight room for Kimberly.
Cummins and Bronson could be joined in the defensive backfield by Owens and sophomore Race Widmeir.
The Bulldogs also have a weapon in returning All-State kicker Austin Walker, who converted 30 point-after-touchdown kicks and also connected on a 43-yard field goal during his junior season.
Kimberly opens at Snake River on August 30 before playing its home opener against 4A Burley on September 20. A fun – and potentially very meaningful – matchup comes in the season finale when the Bulldogs host rival Gooding on October 25. That’s when two of the top players in all of Idaho, Huft and Gooding quarterback Shane Jennings, will try to lead their respective teams to victory in what could decide the SCIC championship.
The Bulldogs and Senators have been the top two teams in the SCIC for the past few seasons. Can Buhl or Filer make a run at one of the top two spots? Kimberly and Gooding are wearing bull’s eyes this fall, for good reason. Both are good football teams. Can they stay healthy? Can they take care of the football and avoid untimely penalties? If they can, they’ll likely stay on top of the SCIC for another year.