Kamiah carrying momentum to league title defense

Aug. 30—The Kamiah Kubs enjoyed their most successful football season in a decade last fall, sweeping to a 7-0 Whitepine League Division I title run before reaching the Idaho Class 1A state semifinals.

It was a remarkable turnaround after a 2-5 campaign the previous year, and hopes are high the program can sustain its winning formula as another season gets underway.

"I think we've kind of gotten back to our roots a little bit," Kamiah coach Nels Kludt said. "Trying to be a more physical team on both sides of the ball, run the ball more effectively. Defensively, you've just got to be solid. You have to have good leadership from your kids — obviously we had a good senior class last year, and I think we have a good senior class this year."

Headlining for that senior class is Porter Whipple, the 2022 Whitepine League player of the year and a first-team all-state lineman on offense and defense.

"He's a guy other teams just have to account for, for sure," Kludt said of Whipple, who racked up 78 tackles and 16 sacks last year. "A vocal guy. He plays 100 miles an hour every snap. He's going to play at the next level — the college level — somewhere up there."

Also among the senior leadership is returning all-league running back and corner Colton Ocain, along with fellow running back Connor Weddle, who was out injured early last season before coming on strong late in the fall.

Junior David Kludt will reprise his role as quarterback. Playing a relative balance between ground and air offense, the younger Kludt was perhaps at his best throwing to receiver Kaden DeGroot for some of the Kubs' most critical touchdowns last year, including two in their 16-12 state playoff win against Butte County. With DeGroot having since graduated, Kamiah will need new receivers like sophomore Everett Oatman to step up and fill the void.

"Expect more of the same this year," Nels Kludt said. "We're built on defense, having a strong running foundation and throwing the ball off that, and playing physical on both sides of the ball. That's kind of our key to what we do."

This Friday at 7 p.m. on their home field, the Kubs continue what has been a recent annual tradition in playing their season-opener against Lapwai. The Wildcats prevailed 60-28 to kick things off in 2021 before Kamiah took its revenge last year in a 34-28 battle, setting the tone for the strong season that would follow.

"Lapwai's been a rival of Kamiah since forever," Kludt said. "That's got to be one of your goals, to beat your rivals. They've had a lot of success recently. They just replace guys that take off and get new guys in there. I know better than to overlook Lapwai."

Another major rivalry game awaits on Sept. 22 when the Kubs face last year's league runner-up Clearwater Valley of Kooskia, with last year's encounter having gone Kamiah's way 34-22. Kludt is naturally eager to take his team back to State, and perhaps even beyond the semifinal round where it fell to southern foe Grace last November, but he stresses the need not to look past the regular season en route to doing so.

"We want to be one of the teams to qualify; easiest way to do that is to win your league," he said. "That's our No. 1 goal — once you get into the postseason, you've just got to let the chips fall where they may.

"... It's going to be a tough year again. Everybody in our league is good. We've got a big target on our back, obviously, and we've got some targets on other people's backs as well. It's going to be a fun ride."

Coach — Nels Kludt (eighth year)

Last year's record — 9-2 overall, 7-0 Whitepine League Division I

Returning lettermen — Porter Whipple, sr., OL/DL; Chris George, jr., OL/DL; Rehan Kou, sr., OL/DL; Dylan Kiele, sr., OL/DL; Connor Weddle, sr., RB/LB; David Kludt, jr., QB/S; Colton Ocain, RB/DB, sr.; Quentin Millage, sr., TE/LB; Everett Oatman, soph., WR/DB.


Sept. 1 — Lapwai, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — Logos, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 — at Council, 6 p.m.

Sept. 22 — at Clearwater Valley, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 — Prairie, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 — at Troy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — Genesee, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 — at Potlatch, 7 p.m.