LIVE ON SWX: Coeur d’Alene Ready For 5A Title Rematch Vs. Highland
Coeur d'Alene will square off with Highland, the team they beat in last year's 5A state title game, live on SWX on Friday.
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- In 2013, fill-in quarterback Austin Lee led Coeur d'Alene to an Idaho 5A state title at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow. On Friday, Highland, the then-undefeated team the Vikings beat to win their third championship in four years, will take a long bus ride from Pocatello to extract revenge.
The Vikings are ready and the game will be live on SWX Sept. 26, at 7:00 p.m. PT.
“We've become real excited to play Highland," CdA head coach Shawn Amos said. "It's become one of our rivals, so we have a lot of respect for each other and we really like to get after each other so we really like to see Highland."
Coeur d'Alene (4-0) is off to a hot start and have already beaten two touted Washington teams in Ferris (31-8) and Moses Lake (41-21). The Vikings will face possibly their toughest in-state opponent when the Rams (4-0) come to the panhandle for one of the best Idaho 5A regular season games of 2014.
"It's a big rivalry against Highland," senior safety Cole Williams said. "We prepare for them just like we do Lake City or any other league game. I guarantee they feel the same way about us, the way we do about them."
CdA senior standout linebacker Drew Berger knows Highland is coming for more than a win. The Rams are heading north with vengeance in their hearts.
"I think they're going to bring a little fire with them, a little revenge," Berger said. "I think we're going to do the best we can to stop them and do exactly what we did last year, beat Highland."
While the defense has proven itself against the likes of Greater Spokane League rushing leader--Ferris' Jalen Hicks--and the Big 9 Conference's Moses Lake, the Vikings are in for another beast when Dakota Tillotsoncomes to town. The Rams QB has 19 total touchdowns and 1,000 yards of total offense this season.
"I think they're just a great team overall and I think we're preparing the best we can," Berger said. "They're going to be fast and physical, but we're going to counter that with our physicality and speed and I think it's going to be a good game."
Lee has also been catching the attention of anyone following high school football in Idaho.
“He's smart," Berger said. "He's physical and he can run the ball. I think he's just prepared and he knows what he's doing."
Amos agrees and knows it helps that Lee has been in big-game situations before, like last season's state title game.
“It helps," Amos said. "It gave him some big-game exposure right away, so that's helped him. He's really grown, he's a much better quarterback than he was last year and he keeps getting better too."
The Rams have beat CdA in each of their last two regular-season meetings, topping Coeur d'Alene in their last trip to Viking Stadium, 45-26, in 2012. In turn, the Vikings have repaid the favor by beating Highland out of the playoffs later each season, including last year's championship at the Kibbie Dome. Home field advantage could be all the Viks need to break the spell the Rams have on Coeur d'Alene during the regular season.
"It was great playing in the Kibbie Dome," Williams said. "But there's nothing like playing at home here at Viking Stadium. We always have a great fan base. A lot of people come out and support us, there's nothing like it.
Highland is currently the top ranked 5A team by the Idaho State Journal. Couer d'Alene is ranked second.
This could be the first of two meetings between these two schools, again. Coeur d'Alene knows it is due to how Gino Mariani coaches his Rams team.
"They're really well coached and well organized," Williams said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes. We're studying a lot of film. We know what they're going to do for the most part and we're going to just come out and play our game and they'll play theirs."