Photo By Kyle Riley - #24 Sam Mallory
Written By: Will Hoenike
Something to consider: 12 teams made the 2018 3A football state postseason. Five of those 12 appear on the Declo Hornets schedule this fall, including defending state champion Sugar Salem and semifinalist Kimberly.
Another thing to consider: Six of the eight teams on Declo’s schedule come from the 3A classification.
One last note: Declo is a 2A school.
Okay, so, we lied. Here are a few more things – the Hornets are back-to-back state champions, have a first-year head coach, and have to replace one of the top small-division players produced by the state of Idaho in the past several years.
Welcome to town, Josh Stewart.
Stewart comes to Declo to replace long-time and uber-successful head coach Kelly Kidd, who stepped down from his post as the programs head coach after the Hornets won four state titles in a seven-year span. All-everything playmaker Keegan Duncan is now on scholarship to play football while he goes to school at Boise State. Starting quarterback McKey Breshears has graduated, as has 40 percent of the offensive line that paved the way for an offense that averaged more than 45 points per game last fall.
One thing the program won’t be is overwhelmed. The players, the community know how to win. They expect to win. Dating back to the 2012 season, the Hornets have won 75 of their 83 football games, a whopping .904 winning percentage.
“We are going to face our challenges with six of our eight games coming against 3A competition,” Stewart said. “However, I believe we will continue to get better as the season progresses and we will be hungry and ready come playoff time.”
Helping to pave the path for Declo in 2019 will be returning seniors Dawson Osterhout and Brandon Street along the offensive line. The pair were part of last year’s dominant attack which overwhelmed teams as the season went along.
“We will be bringing in a few new players up front and our ability to gel on the line will be key to our success,” Stewart said. “We will continue to employ a Wing-T style offense like we have in the past.”
It’s not fair to ask one person to fill the shoes left behind by Duncan, a rare breed of player at the 2A level who simply dominated games. But Declo does have a handful of players who, collectively, should do good things this fall. Senior Kenyon Christofferson returns for his senior year and will get help from juniors Brogan Matthews, Derek Matthews, and Layne Homer.
Defensively, Osterhout and Street will be joined up front by juniors Braden Darrington, Elijah Cole, and Miguel Juarez along the defensive line. Christofferson will lead the linebacking unit which will include Homer and Derek Matthews in front of a secondary that includes senior Sam Mallory and Brogan Matthews.
“Our senior leaders have worked hard and have assumed the leadership role, knowing they are going to be leading a young group of kids,” Stewart said. “We have great senior leadership and I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress as the season goes along.”
Declo has won 25 straight games, dating back to a loss to St. Maries in the 2A title game in November of 2016. That streak will be put to a stern test on opening night, October 30, when the Hornets travel to face a well-stocked Sugar Salem squad before coming home to face an Aberdeen program that has won 22 games over the past three seasons. From there, it’s all 3A competition before the lone Canyon Conference game to end the regular season at home against Wendell on October 25.
“We are going to be young, but hungry,” Stewart concluded. “These guys are eager to prove themselves and establish their own legacy in the Declo football program.”