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Idaho state football preview: Coeur d’Alene leads trio of area teams into semifinals

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 12, 2020

Coeur d’Alene’s Gunner Giulio eludes a tackler in the Vikings’ 56-7 win over Timberline in an Idaho 5A State quarterfinal last week. CdA travels to Rocky Mountain in a semifinal on Friday.  (Cheryl Nichols/For The Spokesman-Review)
Coeur d’Alene’s Gunner Giulio eludes a tackler in the Vikings’ 56-7 win over Timberline in an Idaho 5A State quarterfinal last week. CdA travels to Rocky Mountain in a semifinal on Friday. (Cheryl Nichols/For The Spokesman-Review)

Despite dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic all season, Idaho high school football has reached the semifinal round of state play.

Three North Idaho schools are still fighting to reach an elusive state title game.

In 5A, Coeur d’Alene hopes to take care of some unfinished business and reach the championship for a second consecutive year. Sandpoint looks to earn respect not just across the state 4A ranks, but at home as well. And in the state’s smallest classification, the Mullan/St. Regis co-op carries the title hopes of two states.

Coeur d’Alene at Rocky Mountain, Friday, 7 p.m.: The Vikings (8-0) have had one goal on their minds all season: reaching the 5A State championship game and winning it, after falling to Rigby in double overtime last season.

They are one step away from getting the chance.

But it’s a big step, nonetheless, as the top-ranked Vikings will have to contend with third-ranked Rocky Mountain (7-0) first – on the road.

“It’s awesome,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said after trouncing Timberline 56-7 in last week’s home quarterfinal matchup. “You got to beat them, you got to play the best to get to the title game. We’re excited. Rocky’s gonna be a great game. They’re a great football team. We’re dying to play a program like that.”

CdA senior QB Jack Prka went 16 of 22 for 172 yards and four touchdowns in the quarterfinal. Backfield tandem Gunner Giulio and Trent Elstad rushed for 155 yards combined in the first half as CdA put up 42 points before intermission. Both backs scored a rushing and receiving touchdown.

The Vikings’ multidimensional offense has been potent this season and will be a stiff test for Rocky Mountain.

“They’re definitely going to have to look to stop the run,” Giulio said. “And obviously our pass is a hard threat to defend. So they’re gonna have a tough time either way.”

The Grizzlies scored 22 points off four takeaways in last week’s 29-13 quarterfinal victory over Highland. Rocky Mountain has reached the semifinals for the eighth consecutive season, with two state titles during that span in 2015 and 2018.

With Ada County back in the red stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan, fans will not be permitted to attend the semifinal game in Meridian.

A group of CdA parents rented a conference room at a hotel near the school with a projector to stream the game.

Sandpoint at Skyline (Meridian), Friday, 7 p.m.: The Bulldogs might have thought they were overlooked entering the 4A playoffs – even in their own league, despite winning it. They aren’t being overlooked anymore.

Sandpoint’s physical defense and running game gave Moscow problems both times they faced the Bears this season. Bulldogs sophomore quarterback Parker Pettit was efficient, totaling two touchdown passes and a touchdown run in a 31-13 victory over Moscow at Barlow Stadium in a quarterfinal last week.

Sandpoint (6-4) earned its first trip to the state semifinals since 2015. The Bulldogs will travel to top-ranked Skyline (10-1).

The Bulldogs’ record is artificially blemished – all four losses are to Inland Empire League 5A schools, although they also own a 20-15 win over Lake City this season.

Skyline is back in the semis for the first time since 2017 – the Grizzlies’ most recent state championship season. Skyline beat Nampa 42-21 in a quarterfinal last week, when quarterback Cade Marlow completed 12 of 17 passes for 126 yards and one touchdown, Abrahn Silverio had 12 carries for 127 yards and two scores and Connor Maloney added three TDs.

Mullan/St. Regis at Dietrich, Saturday, 1 p.m.: The Idaho/Montana co-op, ranked No. 4 in the state 1AD2 media poll, trudged through snow and mud last week to upend Horseshoe Bend 28-12 in a quarterfinal. Junior Adam Ball scored on a pair of short touchdown runs, including a late 2-yard sweep to seal it for the Tigers (8-1).

The playoff win marked a milestone for the schools in different states that were forced to co-op due to a shortage of players at the small schools.

“This is huge, man,” Mullan coach Stetson Spooner said after the win. “Three years ago, St. Regis had three kids (on the football team), we had seven. Neither one of us could play in our respective states.

“All year I’ve been saying, ‘Why not us?’ And why not?”

Adam Ball’s brother Caleb, a sophomore, is the quarterback. Another brother tandem – Riley (senior) and Luke (junior) Trogden – stands out on offense and defense.

Dietrich (9-0), ranked No. 2, outlasted North Gem 60-42 to advance. The Blue Devils are led by senior quarterback Brady Power.

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