NELKE: Looking ahead — but don’t tell Viks, Trojans

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Perhaps the only people not surprised by the Post Falls Trojans’ 3-0 start in high school football this season are, well, the good folks of Post Falls.

“People in Post Falls, they understood this is a good group,” second-year Post Falls football coach Blaine Bennett said the other day, standing on the field at University High shortly after the Trojans rallied to beat the Titans 37-27 on Saturday for their third straight victory to start the season. “In the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls area, they’ve had a lot of success in youth football, youth basketball, youth baseball, and it’s the same age group. Coeur d’Alene’s got a great senior class too ... it’s a good group going through in both towns.”

“We love it,” Post Falls senior quarterback Nate Buer said of the Trojans’ hot start. “We’re just out here having a good time. There’s good team chemistry out here. We kinda saw it coming, though.”

POST FALLS is 3-0 for the first time since 2010, when the Trojans went on to finish 7-2 but missed the state playoffs after going 1-2 in league, including a one-point loss to Lake City.

This year, Post Falls opened by routing Sandpoint 56-12, then turned a few heads by outscoring Mead 54-40 at Roos Field in Cheney.

Last Saturday, following a week where everybody’s practice schedules were thrown off by the poor air quality, Post Falls overcame a slow start with a strong finish and knocked off a good U-Hi team.

“We talk a lot about that — handle the things you can control,” Bennett said. “I thought our kids handled it (practicing indoors) really well. We came out in the gym when the gym was available, and did some practice, and tried to get our timing if we could, and did what we could. Little bit slow start (against the Titans) but we played better in the second half.”

In many seasons, Post Falls’ strength has been its size. This year, the Trojans’ strength is on the perimeter, so their game plans are designed with that in mind.

“We put a lot of pressure on people,” Bennett said. “Coach (Adam) Shamion, our defensive coordinator, does an amazing job, and we were certainly outmatched (up front against U-Hi), and he brought a lot of pressure and had a lot of bodies in the box. I thought he had a great scheme, and the kids did a nice job in the second half.”

The result — an undefeated start, and an optimistic future.

“We have a great senior class,” Bennett said. “We start 20 seniors, one junior and one sophomore. So it’s a great senior class. They’ve had a lot of success in all three sports, multiple-sport athletes — that’s one thing that we talk a lot about, is the multi-sport athlete at Post Falls, and it showed up again. They made good decisions in the fourth quarter. They’re basketball players, they’re baseball players, they’re football players. They all like each other. They all hang out together, so we have a nice tight-knit group.”

THE TEMPTATION is to look ahead to Oct. 20, when Post Falls visits Coeur d’Alene in the regular-season finale, a game that could decide the 5A Inland Empire League title, and the top seed from the North to the state 5A playoffs.

Naturally, neither team is looking that far ahead (not that they would admit, anyway). Besides, there’s much work to be done by both teams in the next five weeks.

Both have three more nonleague games remaining. Post Falls hosts Cheney and Lakeland, then travels to Wenatchee. Coeur d’Alene is home vs. Moses Lake, travels to Camas (Wash.), then hosts Capital Christian of Sacramento.

Post Falls opens league play at home against Lake City, then travels to Lewiston. Coeur d’Alene hosts Lewiston, and travels to Lake City.

Coaches at Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene will make sure their teams are focused on this week, then next week then the following week ... not six weeks from now.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t look ahead to late October.

Just don’t tell ’em.

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

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