The similarities between 3A football state finalists Sugar-Salem and Homedale are many. They both deploy run-first offenses and have good coaching while relying on tradition to fuel their programs. Oh and don’t forget, they’re both returning to the 3A state finals for their third year in a row.
The Diggers won 48-14 in the title game last season and 30-22 the season before. With both teams graduating over 20 players from last year’s teams, anything could happen Saturday at Middleton High.
With only a handful of returning players from last year’s squad Sugar players felt doubted by those outside their locker room.
“It fuels us knowing that it was supposed to be a rebuilding year according to everybody I talked to other than the guys I go to battle with every weekend,” said senior defensive back, offensive weapon and returning rotation player from last year’s squad, Crew Clark. “We knew that we’d be in the state championship before the first game even though most of our community didn’t believe in us off the get. That really stoked the fire that we had burning in us.”
Richins said he believes tradition is a big part of why both teams are back in the title game.
“I think Homedale is in that place right now where they just have a lot of kids who believe in the program,” Richins said. “They believe in how the coaches are coaching them up. They find a lot of success that way.”
The back-to-back state title winning coach also feels like the young players on each team deserve credit as well.
“They have good underclassmen,” Richins said. “They have a good program. They’re building. I think coach Holtry’s done a good job of building that up and helping his young players have success. They’ve put together a tough schedule to compete with and find success and test their team.”
Players returning to the title game could be key for the Diggers.
“We have a few kids back from last year’s defensive group.” Richins said. “With Brigham and Logan and Crew. So having that defensive leadership there huge. They kind of what to expect with the physicalness the bring. They just have the veteran ability to know what to expect where they’ve seen how they play and how physical they play. It’s huge for our young guys to be able to have that leadership and that experience.”
The two teams square off at noon at Middleton High School near Boise. Clark believes the Diggers making their championship debut will follow a similar script to last year.
“It’s basically the same story every year,” Clark said. “Homedale has a really good run game just like they do every year. I think ours is even better just like it was last year and the year before that. We plan on stopping the run game and running the ball down their throats to get another win this year.”