Nov. 17—The Kendrick Tigers completed one of the hardest feats in football on Thursday at the P1FCU Kibbie Dome: winning their third straight state championship and completing their second consecutive perfect season. Kendrick (10-0) blew out the Camas County Mushers 68-0 to complete the rare but often sought after three-peat.
"I'm just proud," Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said. "I'm proud to coach at Kendrick, I'm proud to coach this group, these kids, from the freshmen all the way up to the seniors. It's a lot of hard work. It's late nights, it's early mornings, it's weight room time. People forget the season is only three months long but we play football for most of the year to put ourselves in these situations."
The Tigers' third straight title displayed that hard work in every facet of the game.
Making a statement early
The first part of Kendrick's team to make a statement was the defense. Camas County (9-2) started the game on offense and senior defensive lineman Dallas Morgan, one of the Tigers' six seniors, forced and recovered a fumble to set up a short field.
On offense, quarterback Ty Koepp, another senior, finished the drive with a 13-yard designed run to make it 6-0. He finished the game with 414 total yards (401 passing) and seven total touchdowns.
The Tigers tacked on two more scores before the end of the first quarter with the third part of its squad — special teams.
Another senior, Hunter Taylor, returned a punt 65 yards to the house to end the first quarter ahead 26-0. Fourth-year player Wyatt Fitzmorris was another senior who added his name to the scoreboard in the first.
The Tigers' display of seniority made the game beyond reach in just the first 12 minutes — a testament to the effort and work ethic of Kendrick's upperclassmen.
"I was really glad this is how I went out," Koepp said. "So happy I got to play four years with everyone on this team, got coached by Hobart and all of our assistant coaches. It's been one hell of a ride."
Signs of the future
Despite the score at the end of the first quarter, there were still 36 more minutes of football left to play.
Taylor added his second touchdown, but next season's leaders also made an impact.
Junior Sawyer Hewett, who finished with 150 total yards and two touchdowns, was the other score for the Tigers in the first quarter. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to put the Tigers up 46-0 with just 19 seconds left in the half.
Sophomore Nathan Tweit had the longest play of the day for either team in the second — an 85-yard touchdown catch.
Backup quarterback Maddox Kirkland and junior Xavier Carpenter scored the last two touchdowns of the game in the second half.
Replacing a senior class that has the pedigree of three-straight state championships is a tall task, but next season's returning players look more than up to the challenge.
"Every single senior on this team is phenomenal," Hewett said. "But I think we definitely have some younger kids that are going to step up. And if we work hard, I think we can go for another (state championship). We're all going to work really hard and we all know what we want."
The graduation of Kendrick's senior class concludes this recent run of greatness for the program, but it also is the turning of a new page.
Under new IHSAA rules, the Tigers will move up to the Idaho Class 2A next season, formerly known as 1A Division I, where they will face a slew of new opponents such as Kamiah, Logos and Potlatch, just to name a few.
Idaho's 2A is a level above where Kendrick has played in the Division II level, but the Tigers have loaded up on tough out-of-conference opponents, including perennial state champions Oakley and state tournament frequenters Butte County.
Hewett and Hobart expressed confidence in Kendrick's ability to continue to compete at a higher level.
"We're excited to take that bump up," Hobart said. "People don't realize — it's another level of competition up in the 2A ranks. That's why we scheduled a tough schedule. Playing Oakley, Butte County and Grace is because we want to get the kids used to it, playing those teams at a high level. ... But it's right back to work here in a month. Get into basketball, then it's right back to work."
Kendrick's future on the 2A level is still yet to be made, but the legacy they leave behind can't be denied: 25 straight wins, three state championships, a litany of all-league selections and even a couple 100-point games. All in just four years.
Camas County 0 0 0 0— 0
Kendrick 26 20 14 8—68
Kendrick — Ty Koepp 13 run (run failed)
Kendrick — Sawyer Hewett 64 run (pass failed)
Kendrick — Wyatt Fitzmorris 57 pass from Koepp (run failed)
Kendrick — Hunter Taylor 65 punt return (Ralli Roetcisoender pass from Koepp)
Kendrick — Nathan Tweit 85 pass from Koepp (run failed)
Kendrick — Taylor 55 pass from Koepp (pass failed)
Kendrick — Hewett 25 pass from Koepp (Koepp run)
Kendrick — Koepp 3 run (pass failed)
Kendrick — Xavier Carpenter 3 run (Carpenter run)
Kendrick — Maddox Kirkland 24 run (Eian Schwecke run)
RUSHING — Camas County: Troy Smith 21—79, Tristen Smith 14—32, Tyson Tupper 9—91. Clancy Rablin 2—9, Dominic Gross 2—5; Kendrick: Ty Koepp 4—13, Sawyer Hewett 3—71, Wyatt Fitzmorris 3—17, Tanner Clemenhagen 3—11, Xavier Carpenter 2—11, Maddox Kirkland 1—24, Nathan Tweit 1—22, Lane Clemenhagen 1—9.
RECEIVING — Camas County: Smith 7—34, Rablin 1—9; Zack Pittock 1—5; Kendrick: Hewett 5—79; Fitzmorris 4—116, Hunter Taylor 3—70, Tweit 2—112, Ralli Roetcisoender 1—24.
PASSING — Camas County: Smith 8-13-1—39, Aiden Freeman 1-2-0—9; Kendrick: Koepp 15-19-0—401.
Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, email@example.com or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.