Aug. 25—The Clearwater Valley Rams of Kooskia came in second place last season in the Whitepine League Division 1. The Rams, along with the Kamiah Kubs and Lapwai Wildcats, represented the Whitepine League in the Idaho 1A Division I state playoffs in 2022.
This season, Clearwater Valley is hoping to take that next step forward and win the league championship and the state playoff bye that comes with it.
"The Whitepine League Division I from top to bottom is loaded," Clearwater Valley coach Allen Hutchens said. "And you've got to come ready to play every Friday night. If we stay healthy, we're going to be a tough out."
The Rams return a core group of speed and size in this season's upperclassmen. Senior running back/safety Bass Myers had over 1,500 rushing yards and more than 20 touchdowns as a junior and averaged 8-10 tackles a game on defense the same year.
Clearwater Valley has additional returners in key positions all over on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback/linebacker Carson Schilling, junior linebacker/receiver/running back Jake Fabbi, junior receiver/linebacker Tiago Pickering and senior cornerback/receiver Trebor Altman are just some of the key returning letterwinners from the squad and are some of the best in the classification at their positions.
Schilling got reps at quarterback in 2022, but will enter the season as the de facto starter after two-year starter Anthony Fabbi graduated in the offseason.
The Rams' size and speed is something that can go against almost any team in the classification, which will do them well on both offensive and defensive lines. Several experienced players from last season's line — Isaac Goodwin, Anthony Carter, Austin Curtis and David Whiteman — have all graduated. Hutchens anticipates the returning letterwinners and last year's key reserves to step up and fill the roles left by the graduated players. But the offensive and defensive lines are still positions to watch in the first couple weeks of the season.
Even with the returning skill of the upperclassmen, very few games in the Whitepine League will be cakewalks for the Rams.
Kamiah is the defending champs and will be returning many key players from its league-winning roster a season ago. Despite going 4-4 last year, all but one of Potlatch's losses came by more than 14 points and that team will have something to prove going into this season. Lapwai was a state playoff team last season and Logos has one of the most prolific passing attacks in the entire classification.
"The hopes are high," Hutchens said. "We're looking to do some damage. Not only in our league, but on state level, as well."
Clearwater Valley will have a strong test to begin the season against Notus at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 at home in Kooskia.
Three things to watch
Schilling will be taking over as the starting quarterback from graduate Anthony Fabbi. In 2022, Schilling had time at receiver, running back and quarterback and had 617 yards of total offense.
The returning letterwinners have a combination of size and speed, and might only be rivaled by Lapwai and Kamiah. The Rams will have a physical advantage over a decent number of opponents this season.
Last year the Whitepine League didn't have a sole team at the top of the conference until Sept. 30. If the Rams manage to get an even one or two-game lead over the rest of the league, that might be enough to win the conference.
Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.