Photo By Patty Theurer - #35 Gavin Luna
Written By: Sven Alskog
Each of the first two seasons of the Dan Lucier era in Kellogg have resulted in playoff appearances for the Wildcats, who hope to make it three in a row this year.
After a memorable run that almost resulted in a playoff win back in 2017, the program lost many key pieces, allowing a younger group to gain valuable playing time at the varsity level last season.
One player who stepped up in a big way last year was Justin Lehto, who earned League MVP honors on the defensive side of the ball and was also named All-State for his efforts.
Other Wildcats who were honored for their performances in 2018 included All-League defensive ends Gavin Luna and Brandon Miller.
“Senior Justin Lehto, Brandon Miller, Gavin Luna, Austin Stepro, Taylor Bush, Tyler Oertli, Ethan Tomczyk, Judson Hall and Connor Jerome have all started on defense for us and this will be our strength,” said Lucier.
The head coach is most excited about the potential of what the defense can do, along with a special teams unit that could prove to be the difference in close games.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kellogg has transitioned to the wishbone over the last two years, something which gives them a different look than what opponents are typically used to.
“We primarily run the wishbone, [so] execution and blocking will be huge,” added Lucier.
Both Bonners Ferry and Priest River welcome in new coaches to the sideline this season, meaning that Kellogg and Timberlake (Roy Albertson) are the only programs who have maintained stability in the coaching staff since last year.
As the culture continues to get built on and off the field for the Wildcats, there are still some areas of emphasis for improvement.
“Commitment and accountability. This has been lacking in Kellogg since I have been here,” said Lucier.
The offseason has been a big step in that regard however, with the coach stating that just about everyone has displayed significant growth since last year.
Kellogg will take the field for the first time on August 30 with a home game against St. Maries.