The quest for a state championship begins

POCATELLO — Believe it or not the high school football playoffs begin tonight. While many of the youngsters in our area will be out out trick-or-treating, three of the teams from Bingham County will be suiting up and beginning their quests for state football championships.

Aberdeen kicks-off the first of four games in Holt Arena Thursday when they take on North Fremont at 1 p.m.
Firth and Oakley square off at 3:30 p.m. and Shelley caps off the evening when they take on American Falls at 8:30 p.m..
Blackfoot has the only regular season game in the county as they host Rigby on Friday in a game that has no effect on the 4A playoffs as Rigby claimed the top spot in District 5/6 last week and Blackfoot was eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago.
On Saturday, Snake River opens their run towards the playoffs when they host Teton at 3 p.m.
As my predecessor Mark High has done in previous years I will gaze into my crystal ball and make my bold and fearless predictions as to what will unfold over this glorious football weekend.

Aberdeen (6-2) vs. North Fremont (4-3) (today @ Holt Arena 1 p.m.)
Take one look at the match-up and it would appear that the Tigers would roll through their game to kick-off the long day in Holt Arena.
But when these two teams met on a stormy night in Ashton in week two of the regular season, the Huskies controlled the game from the opening kick-off and used the multiple weather delays to their advantage to earn a 36-12 win.
Aberdeen head coach Jeff Duffin said his team needed to do a better job in stopping the run early in the game. That will again be a key for the Tigers, but this time the weather will not be a factor.
Offensively the Tigers are led by quarterback Clancey Beck who controls the Aberdeen power running attack.
The Tigers offense averages 24 points per game and have scored more than 28 points just twice, 31 in a win over Malad and 42 in a blowout of Ririe. The offense has only be shutout once and that was to eventual district champion West Side.
Defensively the Tigers hold opponents to 21 points per game and the 36 North Fremont scored in week two was the high scored by an opponent this season.
North Fremont managed just four wins on the season, but that total is held down thanks to losses to three other playoff teams, Salmon, Firth and Teton.
The Huskies average 28 points per game and scored a season-high 44 during a win over West Jefferson during the middle of the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies give up 25 points a game.
What do all those stats mean? The Tigers get their revenge on the Huskies for the early season defeat with a close win….
Tigers 24, Huskies 21

Oakley (3-5) vs. Firth (7-1) (today @ Holt Arena 3:30 p.m.)
This looks like a lopsided match-up, and to no ones surprise it should be.
The Cougars have been the top ranked team in the 2A media poll all season and with good reason, they just may be the most balanced team in the state and the favorite to finally get over the hump and win the state title that has eluded them the last few years.
Quarterback Jackson Thompson and running back Connor Montgomery pace a Firth offense that averages 37 points per game and has not scored less than 40 points in the last four weeks.
For the first time in recent memory the Cougars are not heavily reliant on one player and instead use a plethora of different players to move the ball down the field and put points on the board.
Stopping the high power Cougars offense falls on an Oakley defense that allows opponents 22 points a game. The last two Oakley opponents scored 28 and 44 points, the high totals for the season.
Conversely the Hornets offense score just 15 points a game and has been shutout in each of its last two games.
The Cougar defense is stout and minus a 40 explosion by Salmon the Cougars give up just 15 points per game to opponents.
Ririe is the only common opponent between the two teams, both were victories for Oakley and Firth. The Hornets won by seven, the Cougars by 52.
Firth has been getting stronger as the season has worn on and because of that I expect…
Cougars 56, Oakley 0

American Falls (2-6) vs. Shelley (7-1) (today @ Holt Arena 8:30 p.m.)
This is by far the most lopsided match-up of the weekend.
For most of the season American Falls has struggled to suit up enough healthy players, while Shelley has spent most of the season establishing itself as the best team in 3A.
The Russets cliched the Mountain Rivers Conference title with a convincing win over Teton 42-29 to end the regular season. While American Falls had to defeat a winless Marsh valley team to take the third seed from District 5.
Shelley has rolled through the season with ease minus a 21-0 loss to Manti, Utah.
During the year the offense has averaged 31 points per game while the defense has allied opponents just 11.
Quarterback Kaden Schmitt has established himself as one of the top quarterback in the state and his six touchdown performance to end the regular season just cemented that fact.
There is little doubt that American Falls thinks that can compete in this game, but in reality the odds are stacked against them. Look for the Shelley started to be off the field in the second quarter….
Russets 63, Beavers 0

Teton (6-2) at Snake River (6-2) (Saturday 3 p.m.)
These two teams met four weeks ago and it was a game controlled by Teton.
The Redskins used their Wing T rushing attack to earn a 17-0 victory. The loss was the second in a row for the Panthers, but since then the Panthers have won three straight.
But Snake River enters the weekend as the only county school that will be playing a home game and with good reason, the Panthers do not lose at home.
Snake River has won all four of its home games this season, the closest game was a 7-6 win over Sugar-Salem.
Teton enters today's game on a two-game losing streak after getting dominated by Shelley last week.
The Panthers on the other hand have won their last three games to take another District 5 crown. Snake River's offense scored a season-high 43 points in their victory over Bear Lake last week. On the season the Panthers average 22 points per game and give up 15.
Teton on the other hand averages 35 points per game and gives up 22.
Snake River has picked up a lot of momentum in the last few weeks because of that I expect the Panthers to avenge the early season loss and move on….
Panthers 24, Redskins 17

Rigby (7-1) at Blackfoot (2-6) (Friday 7 p.m.)
What has been a disappointing season comes to an end Friday night as Blackfoot closes out the regular season against a surprising Rigby team that has already won the District 5/6 crown.
Broncos freshman quarterback Pacen Hayes exploded onto the scene in his first career start last week in a 45-28 win over Pocatello.
Hayes went 8-of-10 for 214 yards in four touchdowns in the victory.
Despite the rough season, Blackfoot still would like to finish out the year on a positive note and send the seniors that have given so much to the program out on the right note.
With nothing hanging in the balance for this game it is tough to think about the end result, but ….
Rigby 35, Broncos 21