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2022 Idaho Lacrosse Preview
Several talented teams will try to dethrone defending champ Rocky Mountain
Published: 3/21/2022 11:59:49 AM
Logan Green
Sports Information/Broadcaster
logan@idahosports.com

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With basketball and wrestling all wrapped up and the sun starting to warm things up (well, at least in the Treasure Valley), high school sports are set to take a step back outside with baseball, softball, track and field, and finally, lacrosse.

Lacrosse is a sport quickly growing here in Idaho. There are currently 25 teams being fielded around the state, broken up into four divisions: Payette, Palouse, Snake River, and Teton. The divisions are used mostly for geographic purposes. The Palouse Division features the teams up north, the Teton Division is comprised of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming, and the Payette and Snake River Divisions are in the Treasure Valley. The Payette Division features programs with larger numbers, while the Snake River Division contains programs still trying to find their footing.

When it’s time for state, the teams across Idaho are categorized into Class A and B designations, and two separate state tournaments are held.

Last year, both trophies went to Treasure Valley teams, with Rocky Mountain winning the Division A bracket over Bishop Kelly and Mountain View capturing the Division B crown with a win over Idaho Falls. The state tournament even featured games in three different states on the same day, with games in Idaho, Wyoming (Jackson Hole), and Montana, where Lake City and Hillcrest met halfway for a game in Missoula. Click here to catch up on last year’s tournaments.

This season already looks to shake up the status quo from last year. Gone are the likes of the Class A State Championship Game MVP Jacob Wong (College of Idaho), Elijah Almanza (College of Idaho), and Brett Wheeler (Aurora University), all from Rocky Mountain High. In a year where the league is more wide open than ever, the stage is set for a new group of players to make their mark on Idaho High School Lacrosse.

Currently, there are two players with Division 1 offers in Idaho, Bishop Kelly defenseman Rowan Hynes (Robert Morris) and Timberline LSM Blake Keisau (Denver University). Denver is one of the premier lacrosse programs in the NCAA, with the Pioneers winning a national championship back in 2015, defeating programs like Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Maryland on their way to the title.

Other players around the state that will be playing at the next level include Boise’s David Ohman (Savannah College of Art and Design), Eagle’s Austin Spoklie (Aurora University) and Jordan Steele (College of Idaho), Vallivue’s Caleb Johnson (North Greenville University), and Mountain View’s Bodie Jones (Northwest Nazarene).

With the change of key players around the state, new teams are set to try and reach championship weekend. In the Palouse division, Coeur d’Alene will look to reclaim their first place finish from a year ago. The Vikings are led by attackman Isaac Putren and midfielders Aedan Reindel, Tristian Larse, and Rand Wormon.

Lake City was also a state qualifier from a year ago. The Timberwolves will look to Colton Altimus, Luke Curlee, Chase Walker, and goalkeeper Cameron Echelberger to lead them back to the playoffs in 2022.

The Teton division in eastern Idaho (and Wyoming) looks to improve off of a strong showing at state last year. Jackson Hole made a run to the Division A semifinals after a huge win over Timberline in the first round. The Broncs hung tough with eventual Division A champions Rocky Mountain, but fell to the Grizzlies 12-9.

Jackson Hole will have to find their footing with the departure of 11 seniors, including 2nd team all-state player George Gervais, but they also return another 2nd team player in Owen Janssen, among others. Janssen led Jackson a year ago with 23 goals.

This season the Broncs will be playing for a close friend and coach, Rad Spencer. Rad tragically passed away in a skiing accident on February 13 at just 27 years old. Coach George Hein said that the team is looking forward to the opportunity to honor his legacy and friendship each time the Broncs take the field. Hein said that the returning players are ready to fill in for the production lost to graduation, and that Jackson Hole is planning to be a factor at the end of May.

Another team from the Teton division looking to build off of last year is Idaho Falls. Last year, Idaho Falls made a Cinderella run to the Division B state championship as the lowest seed in the tournament, knocking off second seeded Lake City and third seeded Skyview on their way to the finals where they fell to Mountain View.

No one scored more goals last year than Idaho Falls, who tallied 245 goals over the 2021 season. Next was Skyview with 226. Idaho Falls will look to their offense once again in 2022. Idaho Falls returns Seth Little, Clayton Peters, James Bingham, and goalkeeper Daniel Van Kempen in their quest back to championship Saturday. They will have to make up for the loss of Tison Livingston (48 goals), Tate Hunsaker (44 goals) and Cameron Peck (38 goals) from the high-powered offense of 2021.

The Snake River division has been dominated by Vallivue in years past, and this year looks no different. The Falcons will lean on lead attackman Caleb Johnson, who, as mentioned above, is committed to NCAA Div 2 North Greenville. Last year Johnson tallied 46 goals and 13 assists for Vallivue. The Falcons will also look to Gage Bayne for support. Bayne was third on the team in goals a year ago with 22.

Meridian is a team looking to dethrone Vallivue for the top spot in the conference.  There may not be a team that returns more than the Warriors.  On attack, Meridian returns Braeden Bishop (46 goals, 15 assists), Cade Bateman (25 goals, 14 assists), and Jayce Lattimer (11 goals, 20 assists).  At midfield, Jonathon Peterson (17 goals, 5 assists) and Nathan Brasher (23 goals, 9 assists, 180 ground balls) are also back for the Warriors.  On defense, look for Colton Safely to be locking things down where he had 48 ground balls a year ago. 

Meridian is fresh off a dominating performance in the Gem State Jamboree, with victories over Middleton, Skyview, Centennial, and Idaho Falls, as well as a few other Montana programs.  They are currently outscoring opponents 58-19 on the young season.  The deciding Snake River game could be played in late March as Vallivue and Meridian are set to battle on March 31.

Middleton is looking to take a step forward and compete with the top teams this year. Some teams have already played their first game, or if you are the Vikings, first two games. Last year saw Middleton win only two games all season, a number that they have already matched from a year ago, with two tight wins over Centennial and Borah to start the year. Elijah Baisden is the player to watch for the Vikings, Baisden scored 48 goals in 2021 and has three under his belt to start the 2022 campaign.

Centennial is also a team that is poised to rebound after a winless 2021. The Patriots are no stranger to success on the field, having won the state title three years in a row from 2006-2008 and also playing in five others since 2003. Centennial will look to replace key seniors from a year ago, including Collin Bentley, Jared Strop, Spencer Patton, and Isaac White.

The Patriot attack is set to be the key component to a strong season. Leading the way will be Nolan Bentley and Burke Anderson, who recently made the move from LSM to attack. Freshman Connor Chapman is expected to immediately contribute on the attack as well.

One key to scoring begins with ground balls and faceoffs and Luke Sant will be the one doing the work in the trenches for Centennial. Expect to see Sant among the state leaders in both categories at the end of the season. With no JV team this season, this will be a year where many young Patriots will make strides at the varsity level.

Finally, the Payette division looks to be powerful and up for grabs. Among the teams looking to dethrone Rocky Mountain are Mountain View, Timberline, Eagle, Bishop Kelly, and Boise.

Mountain View is a team looking to build off of a successful end to 2021. The Mavericks won the Division B championship last year, though this year, the goal will be to take Division A. When you return most of your scoring from a year ago, chances are high for success, and Mountain View is set up nicely in that regard.

The Mavericks return leading scorer Ashton Smith who tallied 41 goals in 2021. NNU commit Bodie Jones scored 26 goals and tacked on 38 assists a year ago. Also back is Colby Brown and his 22 goals. The defense will be led by Carter Pechin and Keaton Grover. The Mavericks played in an early season tournament out of state where they went 3-0, winning all three in dominating fashion, further proving the successful expansion of lacrosse in Idaho.

Timberline is looking to shake off a disappointing first round exit at state. The Wolves made the long drive over to Jackson Hole where they were knocked off by the Broncs. As mentioned earlier, the Wolves are led by Denver commit Blake Keisau. Keisau averaged almost 7 ground balls per game in 2021 and even scored one goal from his defensive position. Scoring on Keisau will be a tall order for the rest of the Payette division. Timberline returns their leading scorer from a year ago in Ben Schulte, who tallied 20 goals. Attackman Alex Long will also be key for the Wolves this year as he looks to build upon his 9 goals from a year ago.

Bishop Kelly is out for redemption in 2022. Their lone blemish during the regular season a year ago was to Eagle. Bishop Kelly had two regular season wins over the eventual champs Rocky Mountain, winning 11-9 and 13-6 in those two meetings, but fell to the Grizzlies when it mattered most, 9-5 on championship Saturday. Bishop Kelly will also look to lean on their division 1 recruit in Rowan Hines on the defensive side of the ball.

A year ago the Knights were able to roll through the season by winning faceoffs and keeping the possession away from opponents. All the pieces return to keep that strategy going for the Knights as they return two of the best faceoff and ground ball specialists in the state. James Bell won 102 faceoffs last year and scooped up an additional 93 ground balls, while Crew Nelson won 74 and picked up another 76. Both players successfully won almost 70% of their faceoff attempts combined. When you are able to get possession 70% of the time, you are going to win a lot of games. On offense, the Knights will look to Jonathon Russell for scoring. Russell had more goals than any returning player in 2021 and will look to build off of his 24 goals a year ago.

Eagle is another team that will be in the thick of the divisional race. The Mustangs return their leading scorer Josiah Senethavilay, as well as college commits Austin Spokile (Aurora) and Jordan Steele (College of Idaho). Gage Rudolph, Roan Killian, and Ethan Erikson will be keys to victory for Eagle as well.

Defense is the name of the game for Eagle. The Mustangs only surrendered double-digit goals three times in 2021. In order for Eagle to take that next step, the offense will need to improve. A few games into the early season seem to point in that way for Eagle as they have tallied two wins so far, a 9-3 win over Boise and a 12-10 win over Mountain View.

Boise made a run to the state semifinals a year ago before coming up short against Bishop Kelly. Tyler Stock returns for the Brave, looking to build on a strong 2021 season where he scored 12 goals. SCAD commit Davis Ohman will also be key for the Brave. Carson Nilson scored 10 goals in 2021 and will pair with Ohman and Stock to lead the offense for the Brave.

Finally, we have the defending champions - Rocky Mountain. The Grizzlies are looking to replace most of their scoring from a year ago. Nick Gruber (34 goals), Brett Wheeler (29), Ben Earnest (24), and Matt Gustafson (16) are all gone from the championship campaign.

Also gone is goalie Jacob Wong, the State Championship Player of the Game. In last year’s championship game, he was able to come up with many phenomenal and acrobatic saves in holding Bishop Kelly to just 5 goals. You can rewatch the state championship here.

Looking to fill in for the Grizzlies will be Mikey Ewing, Jack Thompson, Zach Aguir, and Rayden Allianic in goal. Mikey Ewing will need a big season once again. Ewing won 128 faceoffs in 2021 and tacked on 9 goals.

As the grass turns green these next few months, we will be right there with Idaho lacrosse. Be sure to check back to Idahosports.com for season updates, coaches polls, and live gamestreams of regular season lacrosse, leading up to what should be an exciting state tournament. As always, we’ve got you covered!

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