By JASON ELLIOTT
There’s a bit of a mystery going on when the state’s high school football tournaments kick off, which starts in all classifications this morning in the Boise area.
No more predetermined clashes of past years. Instead, the Idaho High School Activities Association adopted MaxPreps.com rankings to rank teams after qualifying tournaments are over.
The coaches of the north at least, are a little skeptical.
“MaxPreps doesn’t work for a state like Idaho,” said Lake City coach Matt Ruchti in his 19th season as a coach. “It just doesn’t work. You’re going to have a handful of undefeated teams, and then you figure out which region is better than which. Highland (from Pocatello) is undefeated, and we played it like opponents in Madison and Thunder Ridge. There’s a little bit of a unknown how with that, that’s for sure. But we’re going to play who’s in front of us and see what it looks like from there. “
The daughters of Coeur d’Alene Charter, winners of the last five 3A State titles – all led by coach Stacy Smith, are ranked second behind Fruitland, who failed to qualify for the state in 2020.
“It doesn’t matter where we are ranked,” said Smith, whose team opens their title defense against Teton today at Vallivue High in Caldwell. “We haven’t played Teton in a few years. When you get to say, everyone wants a chance for this trophy, so it doesn’t matter who’s ranked where.”
BOYS 5A: Lake City (17-0-1), the number one seed, opens today at Eagle High against Lewiston (8-8-0) at 9 a.m. PST. Lake City have beaten Lewiston three times, including 3-0 in the regional title game on October 13 at home.
“Lake City has always had a target in the back so we’re used to it,” said Lake City coach Alan Rich in his fifth season. “I just ask the guys to come out and play their best game every game no matter who we play.”
Lake City could face Thunder Ridge in the semifinals with a win. The Timberwolves defeated the Idaho Falls Titans 2-1 on August 27 at home.
“This game gave us the confidence that we can play with the other southern teams,” said Rich.
GIRLS 5A: Fourth seed Lake City (14-2-0) starts off with fifth seed Timberline (13-4-1) from Boise today at 10 a.m. at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian.
“We have to be a lot better than we were (in the Oct. 12 regional title game against Coeur d’Alene) to make an impact in the south,” said Ruchti, who led the Timberwolves to the titles in 2012 and 2016. “Highland had an exceptional run in this region. Boise and Rocky Mountain are both at the top of their game. They are the traditional teams, Highland to the east, Boise and Rocky to the south and Lake City to the north. This should be a fun tournament. “
Defending champion Boise (14-3-1) is the third seed and opens with sixth seed Eagle (11-7-2), who beat Coeur d’Alene 2-0 in a play-in match last Saturday at Lewiston.
Lake City qualified for last year’s consolation championship game but called it off due to snow in the Coeur d’Alene area.
“Most of the time we only did one step at a time,” said Lake City junior forward Georgia Whitehead. “We focused on each one and got over that. But now that we think about it, we’re excited to be back.”
Whitehead, along with junior forward Elliotte Kortus – a transfer from the Seattle Academy – have signed up for Washington State.
“It was a great experience,” said Kortus. “The girls were super welcoming and the environment they created here was great. It was really fun playing with them and it was a good season.”
4A BOYS: Hillcrest (14-2-2) knocked out defending champion Vallivue (11-7-2) in a play-in match last Saturday at Burley.
Region 1 title winner Sandpoint (8-4-0) opened up to the state against Canyon Ridge (10-3-5) of Twin Falls today at Brothers Park in Caldwell.
4A GIRLS: Moscow (4-8-1), winner of the Region 1 title, opens seventh seed against Skyline (14-0-2) of Idaho Falls at Brothers Park in Caldwell.
Preston, the 4A girls champion last year, failed to qualify.
3A BOYS: The road to a title in Coeur d’Alene Charter coach Craig Daigle’s first season may seem a little tough, but so do playing twice on the same day to take third place in the league. ‘Status in 2020.
“One thing we’ve preached all year is focusing on ourselves, not on what’s going on on the road or with the other team,” said Daigle, whose team debut as fourth seed. series against McCall-Donnelly (11-2-0) today at Vallivue High in Caldwell. “What we do there, if we do what we practiced and do during a game, we feel confident. These boys, they have the will not to lose. The fight in them is amazing.”
Coeur d’Alene Charter defeated McCall-Donnelly in the opening round last year. Charter’s semi-final in 2020 has been moved to Saturday morning due to snow, with the third-place match and the Championship match taking place later that night.
“I am so excited to be back in the state,” said Coeur d’Alene Charter goaltender Miles Taylor. “This boy group is just awesome. It’s gonna be awesome.”
Sun Valley Community School (16-1-2) is the seed.
Bonners Ferry (11-3-4), the District 1-2 finalist opens with Sugar-Salem (15-3-0).
“I don’t care where we rank,” said Daigle. “We’re just ready to go.”
3A GIRLS: The Panthers (16-1-0) start with Teton (8-5-2) in the last game of the day today at 12:30 p.m. at Vallivue High in Caldwell.
“The target on our back continues to grow more and more,” said Smith, whose program has played for the state title for the past seven seasons, winning six, including five in a row since 2016. “Us” know that, and we’ve been able to play through that pressure before. And hopefully we can do it again. “
Fruitland (16-0-1), the tournament’s number one seed, starts with Timberlake (11-5-0) today at 10 a.m.
“I really like our attitude right now,” said Timberlake coach Steve Michael in his 14th season. “We want to compete, and it’s good to have this team that wants to compete and has that mental advantage.”
Coeur d’Alene Charter has seven seniors on its roster, most of whom have played precious minutes at the State in recent years.
“I think we’re in a good headspace right now,” Smith said. “We all know we have the same goal. But I think we have enough upper class students to help us prepare for these tough games.”