The Carey High School football team will take a young team into its seven-game varsity campaign that opens today, Friday with a varsity game against a bigger school, Notus.
The Panthers will build around two fast seniors, Tori Alvarez and Christian Zarate, while focusing on building the offensive and defensive lines around junior Matt Whitworth.
Carey lost plenty with the graduation of quarterback Jordan Dilworth. He had a school-record 2,318 passing yards and 39 touchdown passes in 2011. Last fall, Dilworth tossed 24 TD passes, threw 17 conversion passes and scored 54 points.
In addition, Carey’s leading scorer from last season, Luis Garcia (14 TD, 97 points) elected not to play as a senior.
Nonetheless the Carey program has won five state football championships since 1994, the most recent in 2010, and has returned a strong staff to get the most out of its 22 players.
Carey’s 13th-year head coach Lane Kirkland (103-23) said, “Our numbers are short and we’re young, but if we can block we can still run the football. We still have decent size and we’ll still have a competitive team. We plan to focus a lot on our blocking this year.”
Replacing Dilworth at quarterback is sophomore Joe Parke, a rangy 6-3, 165-pounder who came into his own on the basketball court last winter. Back-up quarterback is 5-11, 160-pound junior Nate Adamson, who will catch quite a few of Parke’s aerials.
“Joe will do fine. And Nate has really grown a lot. He’s very elusive, great with the ball and has soft hands. He’s also hitting well on defense, just like Joe is,” said Kirkland.
Running backs Zarate (8 TD, 58 points) and Alvarez (10 TD, 70 points) are capable of chewing up yardage, and Parke will carry the ball straight ahead on Carey’s 10-power direct snap. Zarate is 5-9, 155 pounds and Alvarez is listed at 5-11, 180.
Whitworth, a 6-2, 225-pound junior, won’t play against Notus because he suffered a concussion in a recent car accident, Kirkland said. Last fall Whitworth was the first-team All-Sawtooth Conference North center on the offensive line.
So Carey will send out an interior line of 6-1, 225-pound junior Alex Durtschi at right guard along with 5-5, 155-pound junior Chris Peck at center and 195-pound sophomore Salvador Ramos at the left guard spot.
Panther pass catchers besides first-team All-Sawtooth receiver Adamson include a young corps of Collin Whitby, Dallin Dilworth, Derrick Baird and Zach Olsen. Whitby is expected to handle the punting.
On defense, Carey will shift to a more preventative 3-4 alignment from its previous 4-2. Kirkland said, “We’ll try to take away the outside stuff a little more.” Doing much of the tackling at linebacker and in the secondary will be Zarate, Parke, Alvarez, Adamson and freshman Toby Whitworth.
Carey (7-3 last year, 40.7 ppg on offense, 21.2 ppg defense) opens its 2013 football campaign Friday, Aug. 30 with a 7 p.m. non-conference varsity game at Notus west of Caldwell.
Notus, last year’s 3rd District 1A Division 1 runner-up, is rebuilding but the Pirates “have pretty decent numbers and have some tradition,” said Kirkland. He said they use the spread and the running game.
“It should be quite a challenge,” the Carey coach added.
Carey last played Notus in football during Kirkland’s second coaching season of 2002, losing 30-22 at Notus in the state quarterfinal playoff round. The last time Carey beat Notus was 40-14 in 1994 at Holt Arena in Pocatello during coach Heber Kirkland’s 12-0 state championship campaign.
Probably the most memorable Carey-Notus game occurred Nov. 13, 1993 on the Pirates gridiron when Carey defeated Notus 26-18 in the state semi-finals en route to a 10-1 season and second place in the state.
First home games are Friday, Sept. 6 against North Gem of Bancroft at Derrick Parke Memorial Field. A 4 p.m. junior varsity game precedes that contest between Sawtooth West contender Carey and Sawtooth East challenger North Gem.
New this year:
The 10-team Sawtooth Conference is divided into the West Conference featuring Carey, Dietrich, Richfield, Castleford and Lighthouse Christian, and the East Conference (Mackay, Calvary, North Gem, Rockland, Sho-Ban). Eight of the 10 teams will qualify for state play-in match-ups on Friday, Nov. 1.
Also, Murtaugh and Hansen combined into one football team through a cooperative agreement approved recently by the Idaho High School Activities Association. The new team will compete as the Murtaugh Red Devils but will play Hansen’s 1A Div. 1 schedule.
That means Carey will play Murtaugh in a junior varsity contest, only, on Sept. 18.
Lighthouse Christian, the 2011 state champion, is the Sawtooth Conference favorite with the return of senior quarterback Logan Bosma and junior running back Adam Taylor (1,297 rushing yards last fall).
Bosma threw for 223 yards and four TDs last Nov. 2 as Lighthouse ended Carey’s season with a 54-14 rout in Twin Falls. Then, Salmon River of Riggins (10-2) captured its second State 1A Division 2 championship in four years 53-38 over Lighthouse (9-3) behind a huge performance by quarterback Leighton Vander Esch.
All-State quarterback and linebacker Vander Esch, a 6-4, 185-pounder, was 28-for-45 for 340 yards passing against Lighthouse and added 169 rushing yards and four TDs. For the season he threw for 2,154 yards and added 989 rushing yards and 20 TDs. Now he’s a senior.
Here is Carey’s 2013 roster. Position symbols are Running Back (RB), Quarterback (QB), Tight End (TE), Defensive Line (DL), Defensive End (DE), Linebacker (LB) and Safety (S).
Punter is Collin Whitby.
Head coach—Lane Kirkland (13th year, 103-23). Carey is 79-12 over the last eight seasons (41-4 home) and is 67-7 in regular-season play since 2005.
Assistant coaches—Lane Durtschi (defensive coordinator) and Jake Nilsen (tight ends, defensive backs).
Seniors (2)—Tori Alvarez (RB/LB) and Christian Zarate (RB/S).
Juniors (5)—Matt Whitworth (OL/DL), Alex Durtschi (OL/DL), Chris Peck (OL/DL), Corban Johnson (QB/S) and Nate Adamson (TE/LB).
Sophomores (6)—Joe Parke (QB/LB), Zach Olsen (RB/LB), Collin Whitby (TE/LB), Dallin Dilworth (TE/DE), Salvador Ramos (OL/DL) and Shane Mecham (OL/DL).
Freshmen (9)—Derrick Baird (TE/DE), Parker Gamino (RB/LB), Toby Whitworth (QB/LB), Wyatt Thompson (OL/DL), Chayton Castle (OL/DL), Tyson Mecham (TE/DE), Nik D’Orazio (OL/LB), Jessy Harshbarger (OL/DL) and Keith Andrews (OL/DL).
Managers—Trevor Kirkland, Raymond Peck, Tanner Mecham and Braden Olsen.