Written by Dylan Carder, Sports Director KIFI/KIDK
Based on where the program was when head coach Kory Kay took over a year ago, 2018 has to be considered a successful season for the Dragons. In his first year in Malad, Kay lead them to a 2-7 record and a 2A state playoff appearance. The Dragons had just one win in the three previous seasons combined. Now they are looking to take that momentum into 2019.
A large part of turning a program around is getting the kids to believe in themselves. Kay says that this year’s squad has more belief in their ability to compete with anyone they face. He is excited about the potential and excitement that this group brings.
Another reason for the optimism is that the players have put in the work during the offseason. Kay noted that the team as a whole is more focused. That has become evident by his guys who have hit the weights and are coming into the season bigger and stronger.
Kay chose not mention any individual players by name, but says the key to success on both sides of the ball will be discipline and execution. He his hopeful that there will be a next man up mentality when it comes filling the void left by graduating seniors.
The next step for Malad is to get wins against tournament teams. The two victories in 2018 came against teams who did not play in the post season. The Dragons were the last at-large team to get into the 2A state playoffs last year, losing to Grangeville 50-12 in the first round.
It wasn’t that long ago that Malad was competing for a state title, making the 2A championship game in 2010. The Dragons have work to do to get back to that level, but Kay has the Dragons believing in themselves and trending upwards.
West Side and Aberdeen will be the favorites in the South East conference heading into the season. Beyond that, there is opportunity for Malad to move up in the standings this season. A return trip to the 2A state playoffs is well within grasp for the Dragons.