Aug. 30—In high school football, it's rare to see a player suit up for their fourth year as a varsity starter. It's even more rare to see it happen at the quarterback position, but Kendrick senior Ty Koepp is just built differently.
The Tigers' fourth-year signal caller has already demonstrated what makes him so special in Kendrick's 66-14 win over Council to open the season last Friday.
The defending Idaho Class 1A Division II player of the year only let one pass hit the ground as he finished 7-of-8 passing for 210 yards and five scores.
"He's done a lot for us offensively," Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said. "He's a kid that's talented and smart, which allows you to do things offensively that's tough to cover."
The 6-foot-2 180-pounder has a career record of 28-4 and has led the Tigers to 16 straight wins.
Hobart had his eyes on Koepp long before he ever took a snap for the high school. He's been watching the gunslinger throw since he was in the fifth grade and has always had high praise for the senior.
Kendrick's headman was even quoted before Koepp's freshman year, saying that he had the potential to be the team's best quarterback in the last decade — and boy was he on to something.
Koepp's first career game didn't go as planned as the Tigers fell 60-20 to Prairie.
The Pirates held Koepp to possibly his worst performance of his career, where he went 11-of-19 passing for 159 yards and two interceptions.
"Prairie was a big deal at the time and it was a tough game," Koepp said. "It was a tough game to open with, and it helped a lot. They hit pretty hard — a lot harder than jr. high. It was an eye opener."
As Koepp began to open his eyes, the Tigers would win five straight games to close the regular season as they reached the Idaho Class 1A Division II state tournament for the second year in a row.
By the season's end, Koepp would earn the Whitepine League Division II player of the year, the first of two for the now-senior.
In Koepp's first playoff game, he helped lead the Tigers to a 44-23 win over Watersprings in miserable conditions.
The youngster was unfazed in the biggest game of his career, throwing for 219 yards and adding 157 on the ground.
This was a teaser of what Koepp's best quality as a player would become — his ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
The fourth-year starter has played a lot of meaningful football in his career and no matter how big the moment has been, he's delivered.
"He's a winner," Hobart said. "He'll do anything to get the team in a good position to win games."
The end of his freshman year saw the Tigers finish third for the second straight year following a 40-14 loss to Carey in the semifinals.
To start his sophomore campaign in 2021, the Tigers were bringing back seven letterwinners, including Koepp.
By the end of the regular season, Kendrick would put the entire 1A DII on notice by finishing 9-2 overall and earning the No. 1 seed at the state tournament.
This is when the Tigers would finally clear the semifinal hurdle after downing Castleford 46-30 to earn a state championship berth for the first time since 2016.
The 2021 championship game would be a rematch against Carey, the team that ended the Tigers' season the year prior.
Koepp did what he does best during the championship game; by staying calm and making good decisions, the senior accounted for all of Kendrick's scores in its 30-24 win over the Panthers.
The win gave the Tigers their first football state championship in 20 years.
The crazy thing about Koepp and the Tigers is that they've just continued to get better. Last season, Koepp won the Idaho Class 1A DII player of the year award, while Kendrick went undefeated and hoisted its second straight state title following a 42-34 win over Dietrich.
"I haven't really thought about it that much," Koepp said regarding his high school success. "It's been pretty fun. I've had the opportunity to work with a great group of seniors, and now it's our turn."
Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, email@example.com or on Twitter @TreebTalks.