Wood River High School varsity football coach Kevin Stilling is counting heavily on 15 seniors this season to build upon last year’s record-setting 6-4 state playoff season and keep Hailey football on the rise.
The seniors responded Friday as Wood River (1-0) debuted its eight-game campaign with a 19-12 non-conference road victory over the Buhl Tribe (0-2) at Bowers Field. The Wolverines out-gained Buhl 388-91 in rushing yardage and boasted a 14-1 edge in rushing first downs.
With seniors KJ Savaria and Ian Keys along with junior Gus Conrad scoring touchdowns, Wood River clicked off another milestone on its bucket list under coach Stilling and his hard-working coaching staff.
It was Wood River’s first season-opening win since 2005, and the first time the Wolverines have won their opener on the road since a 28-22 overtime success at Wendell in 2000. Hailey grid teams seem to win at Buhl every decade or so—it was only the fourth Wood River win ever at Buhl and the first at Bowers Field since 1999.
Commenting on a couple of Wood River miscues (fumble, high punt snap) that gave Buhl two decent chances to win the game in the final quarter, Stilling said, “The score was a little closer than it needed to be. I’d like to see more than 19 points when we rush for 400 yards.
“But I was pleased with the play of our line. The secondary did well—our corners are young and they’re going to learn. Our wingbacks stepped up and did well. We were able to finish three nice drives.”
Picking up where Greg Lindbloom left off carrying the bulk of the payload in Wood River’s Wing-T rocket series was senior running back and defensive end Savaria. The shifty 5-11, 200-pounder rushed 21 times for 196 yards including a 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter tying the score 6-6.
With Wood River’s defense gaining field position, Keys (11 carries for 81 yards) gave Wood River the lead for good when he carried the ball four times for 37 yards including a six-yard TD run in the second quarter. Trevor Brand kicked the extra point making the score 13-6.
The short, accurate passing of Buhl junior quarterback Kade Crossland (18-for-32, 185 yards) guided the Tribe on an 11-play, 80-yard drive just before halftime cutting the Wood River lead to 13-12. It was time for the Wolverine defense to step up—and it did after half.
The Hailey defense rose to the occasion stopping Buhl’s 10-play, 60-yard, six-minute drive that opened the third quarter.
A huge tackle by senior inside linebacker Drew Barsch (a team-high 11 tackles) put the Tribe in a passing situation at the Wolverine 24-yard-line. Senior Jared Anderson broke up a third-down aerial. Anderson and Hayden Thayer gang-tackled a fourth-down pass completion just one yard shy of first down yardage at the 17.
Buckling down to work was the Wood River offensive line of center Buck Horn, guards Cody Richmond and Jackson Toothman, tackles Wyatt Griffith and Parker Bingham, and ends Barsch and Thayer.
They carved out holes so that Wood River backs Savaria and Keys could move downfield, ripping off first down after first down through the middle and around the Tribe ends.
On second-and-20, Savaria dragged tacklers for a 19-yard-gain, then plunged for the first down. From the Buhl 26, Conrad (4 carries for 74 yards) ran a counter for his first TD—weaving through the defense and cutting back from right to left. Nobody touched him.
The Wood River cheerleaders went wild with push-ups as their team finished the 10-play, 88-yard scoring drive—Savaria running for 46 yards, Keys 16 and Conrad the final 26.
Twice more, the Hailey defense stopped Buhl drives near midfield as its pass rush intensified. But, with about four minutes left, Wood River almost gave the game away when a high punt snap put the Tribe in business at the Wolverine 23.
Crossland went to work with six passing plays, completing just two as a holding penalty hurt Buhl’s cause. On third and fourth downs, both long yardage, Crossland fired passes near the goal line—but defensive backs Cooper Bailey and Thayer were tight on coverage.
Two important developments in the first quarter affected the plans of both teams.
On Buhl’s first offensive play, the Tribe’s game breaker David Murdoch broke three tackles on an end run and finished a 64-yard TD gallop. Murdoch had rushed 17 times for 72 yards during last year’s 21-8 Wood River home win over Buhl that was Wood River’s first win over Buhl since 2000.
During Murdoch’s run, Wood River lost senior fullback/linebacker Ben Williams to an ACL knee injury. Williams was a two-time All-Great Basin pick. Stilling regretted his loss, but said he respected Williams for shaking off his disappointment and encouraging his teammates. “Ben is a leader by example,” he said.
Just four minutes after the pivotal play, Murdoch took himself out of the game—a key loss for Buhl’s running attack.
Wood River punt returner Conrad brought back a kick 22 yards and was face-masked out-of-bounds along the Wolverine sideline by tackler Murdoch. Not only did Murdoch get into a shouting match with the Wood River coaches for his penalized play, he did some helmet-throwing and was ejected, according to Stilling.
Check today’s Express Web site for full game statistics.
Gooding arrives Friday for home opener
Stilling expects a strong challenge from the unbeaten Gooding Senators (3-0) when Wood River hosts its home opener Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Phil Homer Field in Hailey.
“Gooding is a darn good football team, extremely physical. We need to do different things to keep them off balance,” said Stilling. “It’s the start of a very tough four-game stretch for us with Gooding, Kimberly, Twin Falls and Minico.”
Propelled by a powerful running attack and guided by senior quarterback Josh Faulkner, coach Cameron Andersen’s Senators have outscored Oakley, Valley and Wendell 143-26.
After losing 20-6 at home to Wood River’s 363-yard rushing attack last September, Gooding (5-5 last fall) has won eight of its last 10—losing only at Declo 18-6 and to undefeated State 2A champ Grangeville (12-0) 48-13 in the 2011 state quarterfinals.
Gooding leads the all-time football series with Wood River 25-10, but Wood River has won seven of the last 10 meetings by a combined 225-62 score. The Wolverines celebrated their 2010 Homecoming with a 14-12 win over Gooding.
WOLVERINE NOTES—Buhl leads the 43-game series with Wood River 32-11, but the Wolverines have out-rushed the Tribe 650-185 the past two meetings. The two-game Wood River winning streak over Buhl is only the second time that has happened in the long grid series. Wood River won 42-13 at Buhl in 1999 and 35-20 in Hailey in 2000….The only other Wolverine wins at Buhl occurred in 1982, by a 16-14 score, and in 1970, by a 26-6 count…..Wood River home wins over Buhl have come in 2011, 2000, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1989 and 1985.….
Taking photos along the Wood River sideline, indeed, watching his first football game in quite a while, was 1988 Wood River graduate Jed Smith of Hawaii, son of former tennis coach Nancy Williams. Smith was a senior on coach John Blackman’s 1987 Wolverine team that won its final three games en route to a 3-6 mark. Among seniors on that team were Brad Jaques, Rick Bradshaw, Skip Merrick, Clay Sanders, Matt Thornton and Karl Northstrom. Smith was delighted with the Hailey win, since the rangy 6-3 lineman played with current Wood River assistant coach Baba Street on Blackman’s 1986 Wolverine varsity squad that went 0-8 and lost its game at Buhl 39-12…..
Wood River out-gained Buhl in total yardage 490-342……Conrad accounted for all 110 yards in kickoff and punt returns…..Taking away Murdoch’s 64-yard TD run, the Wood River defense held Buhl to 20 carries for 27 yards over the rest of the game…..Junior Cody Richmond did a good job coming in for the injured Ben Williams and filling in alongside Drew Barsch at inside linebacker……The defensive line featured sophomores Champe Kotara and Parker Bingham, senior Buck Horn on the nose, sophomore Jackson Toothman and senior KJ Savaria. Defensive backs were junior Cooper Bailey, sophomore Hayden Thayer, junior Gus Conrad and senior Jared Anderson….
In other games last weekend: Jerome (1-2) dropped its home opener 72-30 to Bishop Kelly; Twin Falls (0-2) fell 31-14 at home to Highland of Pocatello; and Minico (1-1) lost 34-21 in California to McClymonds. Jerome visits Canyon Ridge (0-2) and Minico hosts Burley (2-0) this coming Friday as Great Basin Conference play starts.
It was probably a good thing that Wood River’s inexperienced secondary didn’t open its season in the smoked-out canceled game at Salmon Aug. 31. They would have run smack dab into Salmon’s junior quarterback Jed Tibbitts. Last Friday, Salmon (1-0) debuted with a 54-36 win over Marsh Valley as Tibbitts threw for 271 yards and four TDS, while rushing for 66 more yards. Salmon running back Patrick Withers rushed for 106 yards and two scores, while running back/receiver Jacob Shively scored five TDs.
WRHS Line Score
Buhl—David Murdoch, 64-yard run (kick failed); 7:53 1st (6-0 B)
Wood River—KJ Savaria, 51-yard run (kick blocked); 5:40 1st (6-6)
Wood River—Ian Keys, 6-yard run (Trevor Brand kick); 7:23 2nd (13-6 WR)
Buhl—Devon Privott, 9-yard pass from Kade Crossland (kick failed); 2:38 2nd (13-12 WR)
Wood River—Gus Conrad, 26-yard run (run failed); 2:03 3rd (19-12 WR)
|Time of possession
|1st downs, rush
|1st downs, pass
|1st downs, penalty
|1st downs, total
|Yards per carry
|Yards per completion
|Sacks by, yards
|Total yards gained
|Third down efficiency
|Fourth down efficiency
|Yards per punt
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Wood River
Rushing—KJ Savaria 21-196, 7 1sts, 1 TD; Ian Keys 11-81, 4 1sts, 1 TD; Gus Conrad 4-74, 2 1sts, 1 TD; Hayden Thayer 4-27, Ben Williams 1-7, 1 1st; Champe Kotara 1-2; Tommy Bailey 3-1.
Passing—Tommy Bailey 1-5, 0 yards, 1 interception.
Receiving—Ian Keys 1-0.
Kickoff returns—Gus Conrad 3-71.
Punt returns—Gus Conrad 3-39.
All-purpose yardage—KJ Savaria 196, Gus Conrad 182.
Tackles (56)—Drew Barsch 11, Hayden Thayer 7, Gus Conrad 7, KJ Savaria 6, Cooper Bailey 5, Jared Anderson 4, Champe Kotara 4, Buck Horn 3, Jon Reigle 3, Cody Richmond 2, Joe McGonigal 2, Wyatt Griffith 1, Jackson Toothman 1.
Rushing leaders—David Murdoch 3-62, 1 TD; Kenny Gutierrez 10-11, 1 1st; Devon Privott 4-11; Kade Crossland 4-7.
Passing—Kade Crossland 18-32, 185 yards, 9 1sts, 1 TD.
Receiving—Devon Privott 7-66, 4 1sts, 1 TD; Adam McLean 5-67, 3 1sts; Jacob DeKruyf 5-52, 2 1sts; Cruz Modesto 1-0.
Fumble recoveries (1)—J.C. Juker 1.
Interceptions (1)—Baptiste Cornu 1.
Sacks (1)—Jacob DeKruyf, Christian Centeno and Ian Compton 1-8.
Kickoff returns—Devon Privott 3-60.
Punt returns—Adam McLean 1-6.
All-purpose yardage—Kade Crossland 192, Devon Privott 137.
Tackles leaders—Taylor Oppedyk 13, Devon Privott 12, Stephan Mejia 7, Kenny Gutierrez 6, Christian Centeno 6, J.C. Juker 4, Adam McLean 4, Jacob DeKruyf 4, David Murdoch 3, Ian Compton 3, Brady Wonenberg 2.