Written by Dylan Carder, Sports Director KIFI/KIDK
It is never easy being the new kid. There was a lot of excitement for Thunder Ridge as a new high school playing its first season in program history last year. While there were a lot of historic firsts, a first victory in school history eluded them in 2018 as they ended up going 0-9. The Titans look to get that checked off their list in 2019.
Building a program from scratch is difficult enough, but Head Coach Jeff Marshall was working with a Titans team that was very young last season. Thunder Ridge started a total of 14 sophomores throughout the inaugural season. Those two things made it difficult for them to compete. The most they scored in any game was 26 while they never gave up fewer than 40 in any game.
The good news for the Titans is that, while they will still be on the young side in 2019, they will have some experience to go along with that youth. That maturity across the board for Thunder Ridge should make for a better product on the field for the Titans.
The top guy back for Thunder Ridge will be senior wide receiver Kayden Toldson. He was an all-conference player a year ago and is being looked at by a handful of Division one schools. He will have sophomore Tao Johnson throwing him the ball at quarterback. In addition to Toldson, Marshall says the Titans have “several playmakers that catch the ball very well.”
Marshall added that their running game will need to improve. He says they are more physical this year, which should help in that area. The ground game is something that they have been emphasizing over the summer.
That goes for the defensive side of the ball as well. Stopping the running will be a focus for the Titans. Junior linebacker Brigden Craig is a key returner on defense that will be looked upon to help lead. He and many other juniors on this team that say significant playing time in 2018 will be eager to use that experience to help the Titans take a step up.
Thunder Ridge will look better on the field in 2019. You should see a better brand of football being played each week from the Titans, but they have a very difficult schedule that will make finding victories a challenge for them. Their conference is filled with teams that have title aspirations in Highland, Rigby and Madison. The non-conference slate doesn't get any easier with 4A teams that also are looking to make deep runs in the playoffs.
Thunder Ridge is still a young team that is looking to find its footing. 2019 will be another building year for the Titans as they develop and establish their program. The football will be better, but the wins may not follow this year. The Titans may be a year away from seeing a big jump in the win column.