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2023 Idaho High School Football Preview: Top 10 Special Teamers
Kickers, Punters, and Returners oh my! Who should special teams fans keep an eye on this year?
Published: 7/7/2023 3:48:33 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster
brandon@idahosports.com
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

As we head towards a new football season in the fall of 2023, IdahoSports.com is once again getting fans ready by unveiling the Top 10 players at each position.  These lists feature players from all corners of the state, and from all six classification levels.  Each week, we'll publish a new list of Top 10 players.  Here's the schedule:

June 26 (Offensive Linemen)

July 3 (Defensive Linemen)

July 10 (Special Teams)

July 17 (Running Backs)

July 24 (Linebackers)

July 31 (Wide Receivers/Tight Ends)

August 7 (Defensive Backs)

August 14 (Quarterbacks)

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Special Teams players to watch out for in 2023.  These selections have been made by the editorial staff at IdahoSports.com, and are listed in alphabetical order by school.  We made these selections based on a number of factors, including: returning All-State or All-Conference pedigree, college recruiting hype, and the good old-fashioned eye test.

Toby Flake, Sr, Bear Lake

Flake displayed his talents at wide receiver for the 2A state champs a year ago, but as Bear Lake advanced in the playoffs, each game became tighter and tighter.  In a 28-27 overtime win over West Side in the semis, and a 14-6 win over Firth in the championship, Flake’s kicking provided the edge that the Bears needed to win.  On the season, Flake drilled 80% of his PATs (25 of 30), and also averaged 40.5 yards per punt with a long of 60.

Drew Hymas, Sr, Highland

It’s always nice when your quarterback is also your punter.  Hymas proved to be a dynamic athlete on offense a year ago, and brought the threat of a fake every time he caught a punt snap.  When he did boot it away, though, he was awfully impressive, averaging 36.8 yards per punt.  He struck a long of 54 yards as well, but where Hymas really shined was his accuracy, as he dropped ten punts inside the 20-yard line.

Zerek Younis, Sr, Highland

Two Highland guys on the same list?  Yes, that’s how strong the Rams’ special teams unit was a year ago.  While Hymas handled punts, Younis did everything else.  After an early season time share with senior James Francis, Younis took the job for good midway through the season, drilling 19-of-20 PATs and a 26-yard field goal.  Younis also sent 24 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Owen Forsman, Sr, Lakeland

Forsman has been busy this summer, winning Special Teams MVP at the Spokane Showcase in June and picking up an offer from the University of Idaho.  He has routinely hit from 50-plus yards this summer, and went 6-of-7 on field goals a year ago as a junior with a long of 44.  Expect bigger attempts and distances from Forsman in 2023.

Martin Connington, Sr, Mountain View

Connington is the top-ranked kicker in Idaho and, depending on where you’re looking, somewhere between a top 5 and a top 15 kicker nationally.  He holds offers from Idaho and Boise State, and has visited numerous others this spring and summer.  With 55-plus yard range on field goals, and 65-plus yard range on punts, the sky’s the limit for Connington as he enters his senior year.

Kofi Appiah, Sr, Mullan/St. Regis

Appiah had kickoff return touchdowns covering 89, 74, and 50 yards a year ago.  The speedy senior is a threat to break away every time he handles the ball, and we should see his usage on offense increase this year as well for a Mullan/St. Regis team that has a lot of weapons to replace.

Kai Ward, Jr, Raft River

Kickers don’t get to showcase their field goal abilities much in eight-man football, as most teams opt to go for two instead of kick a PAT.  Field goal attempts are even more rare, so how should we assess a kicker like Kai Ward?  Well, as the Trojans’ kickoff man a year ago, Ward drilled 14 touchbacks, but more importantly, executed three successful onside kicks.  Raft River gave Ward a chance at a few PATs in mop up time a year ago.  We could see even more opportunities in 2023.

Ronaldo Gomez, Jr, Rimrock

Much like Ward, Gomez didn’t have a huge opportunity to showcase his field goal abilities because of the general tendencies in eight-man football.  However, Gomez went 3-for-5 in limited PAT action, and coach Sam Ward even let Gomez attempt a field goal in a non-conference game against Owyhee (Nevada).  Not only did Gomez nail it, but the kick came from 47 yards away, making it one of the longest field goals not just in eight-man football, but in the entire state in 2023.

Wyatt Solosabal, Sr, Twin Falls

The true definition of a home run threat, fans hold their breath whenever the ball is in Solosabal’s hands.  He shined on offense for the Bruins as a hybrid running back/receiver, but he was no slouch in the return game either.  Solosabal averaged 55.0 yards per kick return, and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2022.  Eventually, teams stopped kicking to him.  On the other side of the coin, Solosabal was a capable punter for Twin Falls, averaging 39 yards per punt.

Ryndon Olsen, Sr, Weiser

Olsen has been kicking for the Wolverines since his sophomore season, and nailed what ended up being the game-winning PAT in overtime as a sophomore to win the 3A state championship.  Last year, as a junior, Olsen was 44-of-49 on PATs (90%), sent 18 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and although he only attempted four punts, two of those were downed inside the 20-yard line.





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