PREP FOOTBALL: Tailbacks lead the way as Savages, Mustangs meet again

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While the venue is the same, and so are the teams, the stakes aren't as high as the last time the Salmon River and Deary prep football teams met in the Kibbie Dome. Two years ago, it was for a state title.

Unlike tonight, where the prize is far less glamorous.

The winner gets to simply keep playing.

Kickoff for this opening-round Idaho Class 1A Division II playoff game is at 7.

Both teams rely upon their running backs. For Salmon River, it's reigning state player of the year Canyon Harper, rushing for about 200 yards a game despite some teams bird-dogging him with as many as six defenders. For Deary, it's a two-back system: Jalen Kirk and Parker Johnston together boast more than 1,800 yards on the ground and nearly 30 TDs.

So what may prove the difference in this tilt? Perhaps two-point conversions, the tide-turner two years ago.

A quick refresher for those who missed the thrilling 2015 finale goes something like this: Salmon River protected its two-point lead by stopping the Mustangs on a conversion attempt with several minutes remaining, ultimately the difference in the game, after the Savages managed to hold onto the ball for the remainder of the tilt.

Another x-factor in this game could be the two quarterbacks. Deary's Colton Heath, thanks to several timely deep throws, played a key role in the Mustangs' White Star title-clinching win last week, while Salmon River's Payton Branstetter played - in his coach's words - "rusty" in one game this year. That was the Riggins school's lone Long Pin Conference loss, a setback that put the two-time defending Idaho champions on the road to begin the postseason.

Kendrick at Tri-Valley - Last year's runner-up in the Idaho Class 1A Division II state playoffs, Kendrick, will travel to Cambridge to face perhaps the most physical team in this year's field. Kickoff is today at 4 p.m. PDT.

Genesee vs. Valley - Undefeated Genesee's margin of victory through eight games this season has been around 45 points, a difference that may slim down as the Idaho Class 1A Division I state playoffs begin Saturday for the Bulldogs.

Kickoff is at 3 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome.

Prairie at Wilder - The Pirates will look to extend their eight-game winning streak as they take their first step in the Idaho Class 1A Division I playoffs.

Kickoff is today at 4 p.m. PDT.

Lapwai at Oakley - No matter how tough the Hornets are, tougher for Lapwai will be the travel - a seven-and-a-half-hour bus ride just to arrive at Oakley.

Kickoff is tonight at 6 p.m. PDT.

Grangeville vs. Declo - Grangeville's trip to the Kibbie Dome on Saturday for the Idaho Class 2A quarterfinals is a rematch of this round last year, a game the Hornets won by nearly 20 points.

Kickoff is at noon.

Orofino vs. Firth - Orofino makes its first Idaho Class 2A quarterfinal appearance since 2014, a season in which the Maniacs marched all the way to the semifinals.

Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. PDT today at Pocatello's Holt Arena.

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Edelman may be contacted at bedelman@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2277.

 

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