Gridiron guesses: Old guard Vikings vs. new kids on the (turf)

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The last seven state high school football 5A championship games have included either Coeur d’Alene or Mountain View.

That run will continue this year in the state semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, when Coeur d’Alene (8-2) takes on defending state champion Mountain View (10-0) of Meridian, which enters the game on a 14-game winning streak.

Mountain View has played in the last three state title games, winning its first championship last year. Coeur d’Alene played in four straight before that, winning in 2010, ’11 and ’13.

“The thing that they do is they do everything well,” Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos said of Mountain View. “They’re very solid; they can run it, throw it, play tough defense. They’re a complete football team. That’s the biggest issue, is they’re a complete football team.”

Judd Benedick, in his 11th season as Mountain View coach, returns the compliments.

“The QB (Colson Yankoff) is obviously a very talented young man, it is no secret,” Benedick said. “He can hurt you with his feet and his arm. The tight end (Cole Ramseyer) is also a great player, complete.

I think their backs run really hard, No. 30 (Caleb Beggerly) and No. 6 (Shilo Morgan) are both hard-nosed, tough runners. The O-line is well coached and physical. Defensively they are fast, athletic and aggressive. Lots of athletes on the field on both sides of the ball. Coach Amos and his staff do a great job as well.”

Mountain View lost 18 of 22 starters from last year’s title team.

“I don’t know that anybody could have guessed we would have the success we are having so far this year after essentially starting from scratch,” Benedick said.

He said his players have played this season with a chip on their shoulder, knowing teams were overlooking them. Also, new starters or not, the Mavericks have instilled a winning tradition in recent years.

“Even in close games or when we are down, they never give up and they never stop believing we are in the game,” Benedick said.

Coeur d’Alene is the home team, but with the potential for iffy field conditions, the Vikings didn’t mind moving the game indoors.

“When you’re matched up with a team that matches you talent wise, you don’t want to leave anything to risk or luck or chance,” Amos said. “You want to line up on a good surface and see who’s the better football team. When weather gets nasty, luck starts playing more and more of a factor in the game, and with our skill guys, we don’t want them slowing down. We don’t want them worried about footing; we want them running.”

“I think the turf is a plus for both teams,” Benedick said. “With it being a neutral site, it should be a lot of fun.”

Rocky Mountain of Meridian plays host to Highland of Pocatello in the other semifinal on Friday. If Rocky and Coeur d’Alene win, the championship game would be next week at the Kibbie Dome. If Highland wins, the title game would be at Holt Arena in Pocatello.

This will be Coeur d’Alene’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2013. The Vikings had bowed out in the quarterfinals each of the last three seasons.

“It’s nice because a year ago we were in the locker room, crying, because our seniors were done,” Coeur d’Alene senior wide receiver/defensive back Kyler Prendergast said. “It’s an awesome feeling, being in the semis now.”

As for last week’s picks, I tried to help St. Maries by picking against the Lumberjacks (seems like it turned out that way a few times this season), but alas, defending state 2A champion St. Maries saw its season end at the hands of West Side. All three Central Idaho League teams bowed out of the playoffs last weekend.

All told, I went 4-2, missing on Idaho and Eastern. Jason was 3-3, missing on West Side, WSU and Eastern.

Overall, I am 70-31, Jason 64-37.

Also kudos to Kellogg, which won the Intermountain League for its first conference championship since 1973. The Wildcats pushed Gooding to the limit on the road last week in the state 3A quarterfinals before losing by one point, when a late two-point conversion came up short. Kellogg was that close to being the first IML team to advance to the semifinals since Timberlake in 2012.

HIGH SCHOOL

Mountain View (10-0) vs. Coeur d’Alene (8-2)

Friday, 4 p.m. at the Kibbie Dome, Moscow

NELKE: Some might say this is THE championship game, but Rocky Mountain and Highland will have something to say about that. The Mavericks figure to be a formidible foe, but unless Coeur d’Alene stops itself ...

Coeur d’Alene, 38-16

ELLIOTT: In the words of Ric Flair, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” Coeur d’Alene takes another step on Friday afternoon.

Coeur d’Alene 45-24

COLLEGE

Washington State (8-2) at Utah (5-4)

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

NELKE: Utah might be able to slow down WSU defensively, but the Utes lack offensive punch. The Cougs would like to generate some momentum heading into the Apple Cup in two weeks. If they get rolling ...

WSU, 38-6

ELLIOTT: Keep your pants on. The Cougars are going to roll in this one.

WSU, 31-14

Boise State (7-2) at Colorado State (6-4)

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

NELKE: Once again, the Broncos face another one of those Mountain West contenders (pretenders?) looking to take down BSU. Shouldn’t happen.

BSU, 31-14

ELLIOTT: Boise State appears to have gotten back on track on a road to a nice bowl game this year. They might slip up somewhere, but I don’t think it’s coming this weekend.

BSU, 27-17

Eastern Washington (5-3) at North Dakota (3-7)

Saturday, 11 a.m.

NELKE: The Eags are fighting for their postseason lives, which might be enough on the road against a Fighting Hawks team having a down year. But with starter Gage Gubrud suspended, EWU will be inexperienced at quarterback.

EWU, 27-25

ELLIOTT: Eastern should win this weekend, no matter who is taking the snaps.

EWU, 28-20

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