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George Yarno Jr. takes over Sandpoint football

The Sandpoint football job is one George Yarno Jr. has coveted going back to summers spent at a family lake home in the area.

Yarno’s hope was realized early last month when he was hired to replace Satini Puailoa.

Yarno wasn’t the first choice. It appeared as if the next coach was a done deal when Sandpoint officials offered the job to former Bulldog standout and current Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Washington) coach Jeremy Thielbahr. But he declined the job, deciding to stay at the school where he’s coached back to back State 3A championships.

That’s when Yarno heard that Sandpoint was still searching for a coach. He applied for the position four years ago when Puailoa came back for a second stint.

“I told them then (four years ago) and said it this time – it’s the job I’ve always wanted,” Yarno said. “My family has spent a lot of time vacationing in Sandpoint. It’s a great place to live and coach football. I’d like to make a good 15-, 20-year run hopefully.”

Yarno, 32, is the son of George Yarno Sr., a Spokane native and Ferris graduate who went on to play at Washington State University. He played in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons. He coached twice at WSU, Idaho, Arizona State and Louisiana State and most recently in the NFL at Detroit and Jacksonville. His older brother John, who played at Idaho, was a five-year starter for the Seattle Seahawks.

Yarno Sr. is retired and lives in Spokane.

While his dad was coaching at Idaho, Yarno Jr. was a letterman as a freshman and two-way starter as a sophomore at Moscow High. He later graduated from Hamilton in Chandler, Arizona.

Yarno went on to play one year at Nevada before finishing with three seasons at Idaho State. He started 33 consecutive games at center for ISU and was named to All-Big Sky Conference teams in 2005-07. He was an All-American in 2007.

Sandpoint is his first head coaching job. He had assistant coaching jobs at Highland in Pocatello and Las Vegas. The last two years he was the defensive line coach at Highland, which captured the State 5A title in 2014.

Yarno arrived in Sandpoint in mid-June after the Bulldogs attended a camp at Idaho. He’s been spending time with his returning players in the weight room. He will be a strength/conditioning teacher.

“It’s funny how things work out. In all reality we couldn’t have gotten a better quality coach,” Sandpoint athletic director Kris Knowles said. “He’s had lots of experience playing and coaching. He’s been around football all his life.”

Yarno said he can’t be tagged with any particular offensive or defensive philosophy.

“You have to be innovative and adaptable,” Yarno said. “It’s an ever evolving game, especially at the high school level.”

Yarno said he’s not sure what specific role Puailoa will have with the program but said the former coach will be a mentor on the field and in the classroom and assist with the transition.

“It’s amazing what Coach Puailoa did the last four years here – to go from where he started to state runner-up last year,” Yarno said. “I’d love to continue what he’s done.”


Lake City coach Paul Manzardo was named the American Family Insurance 2015-16 All-USA Idaho baseball coach of the year.

Manzardo coached Lake City to the State 5A championship this spring in his first season.

LC pitcher/first baseman Dominic Conigliaro, a senior, was named to the first team.

Coach hirings

Post Falls has hired volleyball and girls soccer coaches.

Matt Barkley takes over in volleyball and Steve Mills assumes the girls soccer post.

Barkley replaces Willow Hanna, who resigned to spend more time with a young family. She guided Post Falls to state four times in nine seasons, and the Trojans were state runners-up in 2011.

Barkley was a varsity assistant for Hanna.

“We understand her family commitments, but we really hated to lose her,” Post Falls athletic director Craig Christensen said.

Mills replaces Sarah Stevens, who resigned after two seasons. Mills was the junior varsity coach for one year after a stint as Kellogg’s head coach.


Area teams won three titles in the rain-plagued Idaho ASA State Championships during the weekend, including North Idaho Xtreme, which defended its title in the 18U division, and Spokane Crash-Blake, which won its first Idaho crown, claiming the 16U championship.

18U, Boise: Rain, which had delayed things Saturday, washed out the championship game Sunday and North Idaho Xtreme, as the unbeaten team with a 3-0 record, was declared the 18U champion. It is the Coeur d’Alene team’s eighth state title.

Xtreme defeated its championship-game opponent, Idaho Crush (Boise), 9-2 in their first game and followed with a 12-0 victory over the Boise Blast as Breana Burke (UNLV) pitched a three-hitter striking out six, and a 3-0 shutout of the Idaho Falls Scrubz as Kelsey Gumm (Central Valley) pitched a five-hitter striking out 10. Xtreme trailed in the championship game when rain ended things in the third inning.

Coach Travis Smith pointed to a balanced attack with most everyone contributing multiple hits.

The Spokane Scream finished fourth.

16U, Spokane: Macie Reynolds hit critical home runs in the final two games against USA Explosion from Meredian, Idaho, to help the Crash to their 16U title at the Merkel Complex.

Reynolds (Central Valley) belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in the winners’ bracket final for an 11-9 win over the Explosion that capped a comeback from a seven-run deficit for the Gary Blake-coached team and sent it to the championship game.

Then after the Explosion defeated the North Idaho Xtreme-Craig 13-8, relegating the Coeur d’Alene team to a third-place finish, Reynolds blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth of the championship game to squelch an Explosion comeback and provide the final margin in a 7-4 title-clinching victory.

Meredith Clark (Mead) delivered a three-run single in the third and pitcher Jesse Dupuis (Mt. Spokane) struck out nine in the championship game. Casey Bascetta (Lewis and Clark) had a two-run double that capped the Crash’s game-tying, seven-run sixth inning in the semifinal win.

Spokane Diamonds-Buckenberger tied for ninth; Liberty Lake Lightning, Valley Outlaws and Valley Bandits all figured in a tie for 13th; and North Idaho Xtreme 16U and Spokane Mudhens were in a tie for 17th.

14U, Lewiston: Rain was the big winner, causing teams to drop out and forcing the tournament out of the Banana Belt and onto the artificial turf of the WSU intramural fields in Pullman for Sunday’s play. The tournament ended at 9:40 p.m. with the Idaho Sliders (Boise) defeating the Southern Idaho Ice (Twin Falls) 15-3 for the 14U championship.

Spokane Crash-Isayev and North Idaho Xtreme tied for fifth and Spokane Crash-Kallsen was in a tie for seventh to lead the showing for area teams.

12U, Caldwell: North Idaho Xtreme ’03 finished fourth and Spokane Mudhens-Connor tied for fifth to lead the showing by a half-dozen area teams. USA Explosion (Meredian) won the 12U championship.

10U, Boise: The LC Blaze from Lewiston is the third area team to win a championship, winning the 10U title.


A handful of area athletes fared well at the 2016 USATF Region 13 Track and Field Junior Olympics in Seattle last weekend.

Jakobe Ford of Shadle Park had wins in the high jump (7- 1/4) and triple jump (48-6) in the male 17-18 division; Nick Johnson, a recent Gonzaga Prep graduate, won the 110-meter hurdles (14.33 seconds); and Jacob Clark of Wilbur-Creston won the 3,000 (9:25.99).

Zella Conley of Mead won the 100 hurdles (14.75) in the female 15-16 division and Anna Rodgers of Lewis and Clark won the long jump (17-11 1/2).

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