THE FRONT ROW with Mark Nelke June 13, 2013

Another scramble to fill grid skeds

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Coeur d’Alene High was supposed to travel to Mercer Island (Wash.) this fall for the second game of a home-and-home football series, after Mercer Island visited Coeur d’Alene last fall.

But the schools couldn’t find a date that worked for both, so the Vikings went looking on the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) website for another opponent.

Coeur d’Alene wound up scheduling a game at Bothell (Wash.) instead.

As luck would have it, the WIAA called the Bothell athletic director and asked if they wanted to play that game Sept. 7 at the renovated Husky Stadium in Seattle, as part of the four-game Emerald City Kickoff Classic.

Coeur d’Alene was fine with that as well.

“The whole thing fell into our lap about playing in Husky Stadium,” Coeur d’Alene AD Todd Gilkey said. “It was a no-brainer to say we wanted to play at Husky Stadium.”

Gilkey said they would try to return the game with Mercer Island another year.

Coeur d’Alene and Bothell are scheduled to play in the third game at 4 p.m. The final game will likely be worth sticking around for as well — Skyline (Washington’s state 4A champion last fall) vs. Bellevue (Washington’s state 3A champion last year) at 7.

The first two games will be Seattle Prep vs. Roosevelt at 10 a.m., followed by King’s vs. Lynden at 1 p.m.

Plus, Coeur d’Alene will play Skyline (of Sammamish, Wash.) this fall for a second straight year.

Much like last year, Skyline was looking to book a national opponent, but couldn’t lock up the game by a deadline Skyline imposed. So Coeur d’Alene called Skyline, and they were OK with making the trek to North Idaho again. Last year, Skyline beat Coeur d’Alene 71-20 at the Idaho Football Classic at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.

The Dome wasn’t available that weekend this year, so the game will be at Coeur d’Alene High on Sept. 13. Gilkey said there might be another game scheduled before the Cd’A-Skyline game.

“Shawn (Amos) wants to play the best people he can play,” Gilkey said of his football coach.

The following week, Coeur d’Alene travels to Pocatello to play Highland at Holt Arena, after the Rams played at Cd’A last year. Highland won at Cd’A, then the Vikings beat the Rams in Pokey in the state 5A football semifinals.

Coeur d’Alene opens the season Aug. 30 at West Linn (Ore.), in the second year of a home-and-home arrangement.

Coeur d’Alene will play host to Minico of Rupert on Sept. 27 and play host to Skyline of Idaho Falls on Oct. 18. Both are one-year deals, both teams were interested in traveling, and both had to get waivers from the Idaho High School Activities Association to play a 10th game. At the time, Coeur d’Alene had just seven games scheduled.

After playing three of its first four games away from home — and far, far away from home at that — Coeur d’Alene will play its final five regular season games in Cd’A, four at home, one at Lake City.

The Vikings’ 5A Inland Empire League games are Oct. 4 vs. Lewiston, Oct. 25 at Lake City and Oct. 31 vs. Post Falls.

LAKE CITY won’t be playing in a college stadium this year — but the Timberwolves are OK with that.

On the weekend they would normally play in the Idaho Football Classic — which they have the past two years — the T-Wolves will instead play host to Hillcrest of Idaho Falls on Sept. 13. The Knights emailed Lake City AD Jim Winger, asking if the T-Wolves would be interested in a game.

“It fell in our lap to play Hillcrest and getting a home game, it was like finding gold,” Winger said. “The Idaho Football Classic was a great experience, but there was no revenue for us. Football is a huge line item for your budget. This provides a gate, and we can do homecoming early, in the second week.”

Other than the Hillcrest game, Lake City plays five of its first six games on the road. The Timberwolves will return the game at Hillcrest in 2014.

Looking on the WIAA website, Winger noticed Eastside Catholic of Seattle needed a game. He recognized their coach — former Sandpoint High football standout and ex-Idaho assistant coach Jeremy Thielbahr. They agreed on a home-and-home, starting Sept. 20 in Sammamish, Wash.

Lake City will open on zero week, traveling to Meridian to play Rocky Mountain on Aug. 30. The T-Wolves are at Kennewick on Sept. 6 and host Chiawana on Oct. 18, both the second of home-and-home series.

Lake City’s 5A IEL games are Sept. 27 at Post Falls, Oct. 25 at home vs. Coeur d’Alene, and Oct. 31 at home vs. Lewiston.

POST FALLS will play a 10-game schedule this year — helping out a team from the Big 9 Conference.

The Trojans already had a full schedule when Hanford of Richland, Wash., contacted Post Falls, needing a game. Post Falls will visit Hanford on Oct. 11.

The IHSAA approved Post Falls’ petition for a 10th game.

“We wanted to keep some positive relationships with the Big 9,” Post Falls AD Craig Christensen said. Last year, the Trojans played five regular season boys basketball games vs. teams from the Tri-Cities.

Post Falls will also play a game on a college campus — taking on Sandpoint on Sept. 13 at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field.

Christensen said Jeff Hinz, the Post Falls football coach, had approached him about the possibility of playing a game at EWU. Christensen checked with EWU and found it would work with them as long as it was on a weekend when the Eagle football team was out of town.

Even better, Sandpoint offered to split the $2,000 cost with Post Falls to rent the EWU facility.

“Sandpoint was willing to make the move (with the game),” Christensen said. “If it works out, let’s play it there every year.”

Post Falls will host Graham-Kapowsin of Graham, Wash., on Sept. 5, the second straight year the Trojans will host G-K, which was looking for an early season road trip. Post Falls plays at East Valley on Sept. 20, hosts Lakeland on Oct. 4, and hosts Richland (Wash.) on Oct. 18.

Post Falls will play five home games and one neutral-site game — all in the first eight weeks — before its two 5A IEL road games at Lewiston on Oct. 25 and at Coeur d’Alene on Oct. 31. Post Falls hosts Lake City on Sept. 27.

The Trojans will open Aug. 30 at home vs. Capital of Boise — yes, at home. In recent years, if a North Idaho team needed to play a team from the Boise area during zero week to fill out their schedule, they were certainly welcome to travel to southern Idaho.

“We were originally set to go to Capital,” Christensen said. “I asked them if they would be willing to come up here and they said sure.”

“That’s the eighth wonder of the world to me,” Winger said of Post Falls getting Capital to travel north for the game. “That’s just awesome. I have always been told they (Boise-area schools) weren’t allowed to travel. I don’t know what Craig said, but good for him.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter at CdAPressSports.

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