Photo By Willy Harris - #48 Kamiah Olsen
Written by Dylan Carder, Sports Director KIFI/KIDK
The goal for a program that has 11 state championships never changes. It is state title or bust. The Highland Rams fell one game short in 2018, but will have a different look in 2019 as they seek to get back to the championship game and claim a 12th state trophy.
The Ram offense will see a big change. They are losing a ton of talent from last year's state runner up team. The dynamic trio of QB Koby Tracy, RB Landon Demuzio, and WR Andrew Van Sickle have all graduated. TE Drake Hill and OL Colton Heinz are also gone.
Head Coach Gino Mariani runs a west coast or a spread offense, depending on the strengths of his quarterback. Senior Cooper Duffin appears to be heir apparent to lead the offense.
“I don't believe we will be the type of passing team we were last year. We are a work in progress and possibly more spread reads than west coast reads.” Mariani added, “We will be very inexperienced for the short term as we get game experience on the run.”
Senior Josh Potter returns as running back. Another weapon in the Rams offense will be Jaydon Bell. The All-State 1st team player will be Highland's first two players they have had in a long time. Mariani quipped that the safety's receiving skills “are too great not to use.”
The offensive line will be lead by powerhouse Dominic McRoberts. He has been shattering school records in the weight room this summer. Senior Blake Williamson is also back to man the O-line.
It will be up to the defense to hold the fort for Highland as the offense gains its footing. With the talent and leadership the Rams have coming back, they should be more than capable of doing just that. Highland has a player with honors returning on every part of the field on defense.
All-State 1st Team DE Kamiah Olsen comes back to lead the defensive line, a unit that will be a strength for the Rams again this season. Also returning to join the senior up front are DT's Luke Togiai and JJ Flores. Logan George and Max Anderton will also be in the mix.
Senior Dylan Jester will lead the linebacking crew. He was an All-Conference 1st Team player last year. Leading the charge in the secondary is Jaydon Bell. He was All-State First Team and can cover some major ground for the Ram defense.
Entering his 19th year as Highland head coach, Mariani believes “This team can be great and end up in the same game at the end of the season with great execution.” The Rams will have to make trips to both Rigby and Madison this year. If Highland passes those tests, another deep run in the state playoffs is in the cards. They would expect nothing less.