Photo By Patty Theurer - #7 Daniel Uranga
Written By: Will Hoenike
Coming off an eleven-win season that saw the Homedale Trojans come up one score short in the 3A State championship game, head coach Matt Holtry has some holes to fill.
The Trojans are losing four all-state football players including one (Clayton Wolfe) that was 1st Team on one side of the ball (OL) and 2nd Team on the other side of the ball (DL). The Class of 2019 at Homedale qualified for the state playoffs in each of its four seasons – Homedale hasn’t missed the 3A postseason since 2012 – and the community is accustomed to seeing a winner on the field.
Fortunately, Homedale returns plenty of pieces that should have the team in good position to continue its recent run of success in the Snake River Valley Conference. It starts with senior quarterback Daniel Uranga, who was 2nd Team All-State as a junior after throwing for 2300 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead an offense that scored at least 34 points in every game before the state title loss to Sugar Salem last November.
The offense returns plenty of weapons, too, including seniors Jake Collett and Nelson Lomeli, who combined for 36 catches and five scores last fall. Holtry sees those two as key pieces of the Trojans’ offensive puzzle.
“Continue to involve Jake Collett in getting touches from the backfield and through the air as he is an explosive offensive threat,” Holtry said of his offensive keys to the upcoming campaign. “Nelson Lomeli returns as the only returning wide receiver and looks to fill the shows of (2018 SRV Offensive Player of the Year) Carson Brown and look to continue to grow the offense.”
The Homedale offense will be lifted by the return to the field of Karsen Freelove. After starting for the Trojans as a freshman, the senior has missed the past two seasons for health-related concerns but Holtry says he’s coming off a great summer of preparation and figures into the mix of what could be an explosive Trojans offense.
For as potent as Homedale’s offense was last season, the defense may have been even better. Only one team – Oregon powerhouse Vale – topped 18 points against Homedale during the regular season as the team held its opponents to 79 total points going into the playoffs, pitching four shutouts in nine games and holding a fifth team to just eight points.
Though the defense does lose all-state defensive back Carson Brown as well as the aforementioned Wolfe, it does return 1st Team All-State linebacker Spencer Fisher, who was credited with 85 tackles and 16 tackles-for-loss as a junior. Collett also returns at linebacker and that duo will be protected upfront by a good defensive front line of Gage Northrup, Trent Shanley, and Jase Lowder. That trio combined for 17 tackles for loss last season.
Holtry has the bulk of his secondary back, led by all-conference defensive back Ricardo Hernandez, who had 34 tackles and two interceptions as a junior. Uranga will see time at the free safety position but it’ll mostly be Lomeli, senior Arnuflo Llamas, and junior Milo Mertz.
Aspirations are high along the Snake River in Homedale this fall and Holtry likes his group.
“(We have) great team chemistry with this group that has been playing together since optimist football,” Holtry said.
After a three-game, midseason road trip, the Trojans will play two of their final three games at home and both games will be key SRV conference games. The Trojans host the new-look Parma Panthers on October 11 before traveling to Payette the following week to face the Pirates. Then, Holtry and his players come home on October 25 to face the rival Weiser Wolverines in a game that could have major post-season implications in the 3A classification.
With several key contributors back, it’s hard to see Homedale not being at (or near) the top of the uber-tough 3A SRV this fall. But the bulls-eye is on the Trojans’ back. They won’t sneak up on anyone. They’ll be well-tested by quality foes during the regular season and, if they stay healthy, should be primed to play well into November again in 2019.