When does a good run turn into a dynasty?
The Kendrick football team is on the verge of figuring that out after defeating Dietrich 42-34 in the Idaho Class 1A Division II state championship on Friday at Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.
The win gave the Tigers back-to-back state championships and five in school history. It is the second time Kendrick has won state titles in consecutive seasons, doing so in 2000-01. So why does this run have a different feel to it?
Here are a few reasons why:
Kendrick shut out its opponents in 31 straight quarters from the 74-6 win against Wilbur-Creston Keller on Sept. 9 until the quarterfinal victory over Camas County on Nov. 5 by a score of 46-0.
In those 31 quarters, the Tigers outscored their opponents 418-0. Kendrick extended the streak to 426 points on the opening play from scrimmage in the semifinal game against Castleford at Bengal Field in Lewiston.
Castleford surprised the Tigers on its opening drive to end the scoreless streak before Kendrick clamped back down for the 38-8 victory Nov. 12.
In the nine games involved in that historic streak, the Tigers outscored their opponents 493-14. Most notably was a 104-0 win versus Genesee on Sept. 15 that got national attention.
Many believed Kendrick was running up the score, but the starters were pulled well before halftime. It was also a far departure from the 24-22 Bulldog win on Oct. 22 of last season, the last time the Tigers would fall in defeat.
While the scoreless streak was ended in the semifinals of the state tournament, the new streak to watch is 15-straight wins.
Hobart and the Tigers do not shy away from competition. Kendrick opened the season against Class 1A Division I state qualifier Notus, earning the win 36-0 in Middleton, Idaho. The Pirates would again reach the state tournament this season.
Kendrick then traveled to Cambridge, Idaho to take on Class 1A Division I two-time defending state champion Oakley, winning a back-and-forth affair 52-48. The Hornets would make it three state titles in a row Thursday.
In their own state championship, the Tigers faced something they had not dealt with all season long — a halftime deficit.
That did not deter Kendrick in the slightest. Quarterback Ty Koepp found Sawyer Hewett for the only score in the third quarter to give the Tigers the lead for good.
“At halftime, we talked as a team and the kids believed they were going to win this game,” Hobart said. “They had gotten used to Dietrich’s speed and realized it wasn’t as bad as they had thought. But those kids wanted to win this game.”
Koepp and the Tigers proved that while they can get on a roll and overpower teams, they do not fold under the pressure of tough competition.
Only four seniors suited up for the last time in Kendrick orange on Friday.
Koepp will return for his senior season next year after completing 106-of-167 passes for 2,001 yards and 32 touchdowns. Those numbers stand out on their own until you understand how often he did not play the second half of games.
“He had another breakthrough year,” Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said.
Junior Wyatt Fitzmorris and sophomore Sawyer Hewett led the Tigers in rushing on the season. The pair combined for 15 touchdowns. Junior Hunter Taylor had over 400 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Then there is backup quarterback and defensive player Nate Tweit. The freshman saw plenty of action in the second half of many games this season at quarterback and made the clinching interception at the goal line against Dietrich.
“We did have a lot of our younger players contribute on the varsity level,” Hobart said.
While there is plenty of young talent on the team, the four seniors leaving the team will leave some holes to fill.
Star wide receiver Jagger Hewett did just about everything in the postseason. Jagger Hewett had three interceptions in the quarterfinals, four touchdown receptions in the semifinals and another score in the championship game.
The senior finished the season with 50 receptions for 1,049 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“(Jagger) is super smart, great leader for our team,” Hobart said. “Kid like that will be really tough to replace.”
As will be Jack Silflow, the 6-foot 276-pound lineman who was the cornerstone of both the offensive and defensive line.
“Silflow is a four-year starter, two-way guy,” Hobart said. “Played center, one of the unsung hero spots.
Tommy Stamper and Tristan Jones, who both contributed on both sides of the ball also graduate.
Isbelle can be reached at email@example.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @RandyIsbelle.