It was a battle of the defenses Friday when the Kimberly Bulldogs invaded Hailey for Wood River High School’s Homecoming football game at jam-packed Phil Homer Field, with 3,000 plus attending.
Both defenses excelled, but 3A Kimberly (1-3) took advantage of two costly Hailey turnovers that pretty much sealed the first Bulldog victory of the grid season by a 17-7 count over the 4A Wood River Wolverines.
Too bad for the home team, which mustered one of its best defensive efforts holding Kimberly to just 47 rushing yards on 37 carries, for a 1.3 average. “Our defense played phenomenally,” said Wood River head coach Kevin Stilling.
Woody Wolverine, the new mascot that rode into the stadium on a John Rade’s motorcycle, beamed with pride.
Indeed, Wood River’s defense stuffed Kimberly four times in the first half but found itself on the short end of a 14-0 score when the Dawgs turned a blocked punt into the first score and returned an intercepted pass 76 yards to paydirt.
All the first-half statistics favored Wood River prior to that second Kimberly touchdown on a turnover—a 6-0 edge in first downs, 27-11 advantage in plays, 13-4 bulge in possession minutes and lopsided 130 to minus-6 difference in yards.
But give credit to the Bulldogs of 19th-year Kimberly coach Kirby Bright. Their defense bent but never broke until senior KJ Savaria scored Wood River’s first TD in eight quarters on a two-yard plunge to cap a six-play, 74-yard scoring drive early in the fourth.
Rebounding from a 64-yard team rushing effort in the 13-0 home loss to Gooding, Wood River’s running attack made decent strides with 244 yards on 45 carries and a 5.4 yard average. But Kimberly’s defense held Wood River scoreless on three deep penetrations to the Dawgs 34-, 28- and 28-yard lines.
Although Wood River improved in third-down efficiency (5-for-11) compared to the Gooding loss (0-for-9), the Wolverines were 0-for-7 on their fourth downs against Kimberly.
Savaria (19 carries, 94 yards) and sophomore Hayden Thayer (5-71) paced the runners. Indeed, Thayer enjoyed his best game and really turned up the volume in the home stands with a 50-yard run from scrimmage setting up Wood River’s only TD of the game.
“Hayden had an awesome game with his running, also his tackling on defense and work on special teams,” Stilling said. “Overall, I think our inexperience on the line, untimely penalties and turnovers hurt us.
“We had consistent effort, but we didn’t execute consistently. Sometimes Kimberly’s defense gave us some huge holes, and we didn’t execute.”
Leading Wolverine tacklers were Champe Kotara, Drew Barsch, Gus Conrad, Savaria, Jackson Toothman and Thayer. Barsch and Savaria each had quarterback sacks. But Kimberly’s stunting defense sacked Hailey quarterback Tommy Bailey three times.
Kimberly (20-10 the last 3 years, a State 3A quarterfinalist in 2011) had been outscored 91-29 in dropping its first three games at Valley 22-16, home against Declo 42-0 and home against American Falls 27-13.
Check today’s Express Web site for full game statistics from Friday’s Kimberly game.
This coming Friday, Wood River (1-2, 0-0 league) opens its Great Basin Conference slate by playing one of its toughest opponents, the Minico Spartans (2-2, 1-0). In a quirk of scheduling, Wood River will be traveling to the Rupert gridiron for the second consecutive year.
Minico has won six GBC championships in seven years and boasts a 28-3 league mark since 2004. Wood River teams are 0-8 against Minico in that eight-year stretch and have been outscored 297-67. Last year, Hailey led 13-7 at Minico but ended up losing 34-15.
Wood River’s junior varsity hosts Minico today, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on the Hailey field.
Twin Falls (1-3, 0-0) also debuts in league play Friday, Sept. 28 at Jerome (2-3, 1-0). Burley (2-2, 0-2) hosts Century Friday, while Canyon Ridge (1-3, 1-1) hopes to build on last Friday’s 7-6 home win over Burley with a road game against Skyview (3-2) at Nampa. Trouble is, Canyon Ridge has been outscored 121-18 and Skyview averages 32.4 ppg.
Homecoming court is named
The Homecoming court was announced during halftime of Friday’s game. The winners were, led by Queen Nicole Pratt and King Nathan Lago:
Senior princess and prince: Sydney Tidwell and Trevor Brand.
Junior princess and prince: Sarah Arters and Matt Reidy.
Sophomore princess and prince: Claire Sauerbrey and Sage Kelly.
Freshman princess and prince: Maddie Marcouiller and Danny Graves.
WRHS Line Score
Kimberly 17, Wood River 7
Kimberly—Chris Chandler, 3-yard run (James Higginbotham kick); 2:10 1st (7-0 K)
Kimberly—Riley Carlton, 76-yard interception return (James Higginbotham kick; 7:16 2nd (14-0 K)
Kimberly—James Higginbotham, 30-yard field goal; 11:56 4th (17-0 K)
Wood River—KJ Savaria, 2-yard run (Trevor Brand kick); 9:00 4th (17-7 K)
KEY STATSKIMBERLYWOOD RIVER
Time of possession23:2524:35
1st downs, rush48
1st downs, pass31
1st downs, penalty03
1st downs, total712
Yards per carry1.35.4
Yards per completion18.36.5
Sacks by, yards3-252-18
Total yards gained219347
Third down efficiency3-85-11
Fourth down efficiency2-50-7
Yards per punt41.311.0
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Wood River
Rushing—KJ Savaria 19-94, 3 1sts, 1 TD; Hayden Thayer 5-71, 3 1sts; Ian Keys 7-44, 1 1st; Gus Conrad 6-16, 1 1st; Cooper Bailey 1-9; Tommy Bailey 7-10.
Passing—Tommy Bailey 2-5, 13 yards, 1 1st, 2 interceptions.
Receiving—Hayden Thayer 1-13, 1 1st; Gus Conrad 1-0.
Kickoff returns—Gus Conrad 3-77; Ian Keys 1-20.
Punt returns—Gus Conrad 2-18.
Sacks (2)—Drew Barsch 1-7; KJ Savaria 1-11.
Tackles (63)—Champe Kotara 8, Drew Barsch 8, Gus Conrad 7, KJ Savaria 7, Jackson Toothman 7, Hayden Thayer 5, Jon Reigle 4, Kole Mauldin 4, Jared Anderson 3, Cody Richmond 3, Cooper Bailey 2, Chris Carnes 2, Adrian Medina 1, Joe McGonigal 1, Parker Bingham 1.
Rushing leaders—Riley Carlton 7-33, 3 1sts; Chris Chandler 10-14, 1 1st, 1 TD; James Higginbotham 11-10; Winton Miller 3-4; Mikelle Fergusen 1-1; Hayden Hatch 1, -5; Holt Bright 4, -10.
Passing—James Higginbotham 4-8, 73 yards, 3 1sts.
Receiving—Mikelle Fergusen 1-30, 1 1st; Hayden Hatch 1-27, 1 1st; Riley Carlton 2-16, 1 1st.
Kickoff returns—Chris Chandler 1-1.
Punt returns—James Higginbotham 1-20.
Fumble recoveries (1)—Riley Carlton 1.
Interceptions (2)—Riley Carlton 1 with a 76-yard TD return; Palmer Champlin 1 with a 20-yard return.
Sacks (3)—Colby Doyea, Riley Carlton and Keegan Preece 1-10; Chase Nebeker 1-9; James Conway 1-6.
Tackles (70)—Riley Carlton 13, Chase Nebeker 11, Mikelle Fergusen 9, James Conway 7, Keegan Preece 6, Colby Doyea 6, Dustin Diaz 5, James Higginbotham 4, Palmer Champlin 3, Dalton Beed 2, Holt Bright 2, Jesse Sutherland 1, Remington King 1.