Preseason football practices are underway in Idaho, with teams in the Inland Empire League going fast and furious before the start of their 2013 season.
All eyes will once again be fixed upon Coeur d'Alene. The Vikings (9-3, 3-0 last season) have gone to the Idaho 5A State Championship Game three years in a row. That recent success has placed the bullseye squarely on CDA's back, but it's also brought a big boost in training camp numbers.
"We had a lot of people show up," said Coeur d'Alene linebacker Jackson Carlson. "We got a lot faster, a lot stronger, a lot better."
"We had probably over a hundred kids there everyday during summer lifting," said Viking quarterback Gunnar Amos. "That's kind off what's expected now. A hundred kids everyday is just normal for us, so we get some work in during the summer."
Just across town at Lake City High School, the Timberwolves are once again a threat to win the IEL 5A crown. While no one may be able to match the Vikings in the talent department, Lake City (6-4, 2-1 in 2012) has a number of weapons at the skill positions, including quarterback Tucker Louie-McGee. The key, though, for this team won't be talent, but rather pulling in one direction with a common purpose.
"We are all real close, we text each other, we all hangout," said Louie-McGee. "It's been really fun getting to know these guys and hanging out with them. I think we are going to do really well together this year."
"They can be as good as any football team in the Northwest," said longtime head coach Van Troxel. "You know if they believe and they work and they sell out to that aspect they can play with anybody."
Excitement is the name of the game in Post Falls, where the Trojans (2-7, 1-2 last year) are eager to put the 2012 season behind them. After a week 2 victory against Sandpoint, Post Falls went winless for a stretch of more than a month and a half before beating Lewiston, 17-10, for its lone IEL victory. But 2013 brings new challenges and renewed optimism for Post Falls for this promising group.
"We've been waking up every morning at 6 am to get there, working out everyday and running hard," said Post Falls defensive back Braden Davenport. "It's nice to get back out on the field and just do what we do."
"We had a border league camp in June, we had some 7-on-7's throughout July," said head coach Jeff Hinz. "They spent a lot of time in the weight room. So I think everybody just loves that first initial practice, that first initial feeling of getting out on the field and putting the cleats on and helmet on. We can't wait to start putting the pads on later in the week."
In the IEL 4A ranks, Moscow is looking to build upon a strong campaign in 2012, after getting a taste of the playoffs. The Bears won the league title before bowing out to Bonneville in their first playoff appearance in more than a decade. But that experience should provide a great foundation for another big season in 2013.
"I saw the last year's seniors work really hard," said Moscow senior Ivan Mucyo-Ngabo. "I saw that it's not just hard work physically, it's up here too. Mentally, you've got to be strong."
"It's about finding our identity finding out who we are," said Moscow head coach Phil Helbling. "Last year is last year. What we did this summer is what we did this summer. It's got to transfer now to the football field."
Lewiston, Lakeland, and Sandpoint also figure to make some noise in what should be another exciting season in the Inland Empire League this fall. You can watch Post Falls kick off the 2013 season in a non-league matchup with Capital (Boise) on Friday, August 30th at 7:00 pm live on SWX-TV.