Photo By Wes Turner - #9 Jade Juker
Written By: Will Hoenike
Head coach Seth Blick turned the page quickly from last fall’s 0-8 campaign and eagerly started looking forward to this fall.
“Our senior class is looking to leave the program better than they found it, so it will be exciting to see who steps up to fill leadership roles,” Blick mentioned. “We are excited to see how the junior class is going to impact the program. This group has experienced some success and we are looking forward to seeing what they have to bring.”
Blick and his staff are optimistic about the pieces in place along the team’s offensive and defensive line. Senior Reese Jarvis, who started at center last fall, returns and will be joined up front by a pair of juniors, Moises Salazar and Kaden Homan. If that group clicks quickly on offense, it will mean a big improvement for a unit that was shut out three times in 2018.
“We need to be able to show success in both the passing and run game,” Blick said. “Last year, we struggled to establish the run which allowed teams to drop back and play coverage, which made the passing game more difficult.”
Senior Jade Juker returns for the Indians and could move back and forth between quarterback and receiver. Likewise, junior Drexler Jaynes could do the same thing as Buhl looks to put playmakers in the best position to make things happen this fall. The team did lose arguably its best playmaker on offense last season in receiver Adam Lauda, so the team will need to replace his speed and big-play ability. Juker, Jaynes, junior Eli Acevedo, and junior Joe Armitage will all have an opportunity to make plays in the passing game for the Indians.
Running the ball, Buhl will likely lean on seniors Jose Rivera and Marco Oviedo to spearhead the attack.
Oviedo, a 2nd team All-Conference linebacker, will lead a defense that Blick is hoping to see improvement from in 2019.
“Defense needs to play better fundamental football,” Blick said. “Tackling will be a main focus of our new defense.”
The defense showed flashes at point last season but gave up too many points against a good schedule. Oviedo and Rivera will provide experience at the linebacker position with Jarvis, Homan, and Salazar manning the defensive line and Juker and Jaynes expecting to fill spots in the secondary.
“We will be stronger up front on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball,” Blick said of his outlook for the fall. “All players have shown growth. We had 27 (players) go to the ISU football camp, which gives us reason to be very excited about this group.”
The SCIC has been ruled in recent years by Gooding and Kimberly, so any path to the 3A postseason for Buhl will go through those two towns. And, this year, that is a literal statement as the Indians have to play at both Gooding and Kimberly. The game at Kimberly on October 18 presents Buhl a chance to break a long dry spell as the Indians haven’t beaten the Bulldogs since October 16, 2009 - nearly a decade to that date – when Buhl won in Kimberly, 29-14.
The Indians will face a pair of 4A teams, Burley and Wood River, during the regular season before conference play begins.
Buhl has a chance to prove their coach right for his optimism. The increase in strength across the board should lead to a more-competitive Indians squad in 2019. An ability to run the ball will help the team on both sides of the ball – controlling play on offense and getting the defense off the field – which should lead to better results this fall.