GRIDIRON GUESSES: Rocky defense a challenge for Coeur d’Alene

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Rocky Mountain High of Meridian has faced little resistance this season, outscoring its opponents by an average of 38.5-12.1 en route to a 10-0 start.

Coeur d’Alene (9-0) looks to change that Friday night, when the Vikings travel to Rocky for a state 5A football semifinal Friday at 6 p.m. PST.

“Rocky is very good — undefeated and ranked No. 1 for good reason,” Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos said. “They have hardly been challenged all year.”

The Vikings hope to challenge the Grizzlies’ aggressive defense with quarterback Kale Edwards (1,985 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 494 rushing yards and 14 TDs) and running back Shilo Morgan (705 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns, and six TD receptions).

“There’s no question we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said second-year Rocky Mountain head coach Chris Culig, who was Rocky’s defensive coordinator for four years before taking over as head coach. “You’ve got to tackle, and you have to play responsibility football. We’ve got to stop Shilo Morgan, and we have to stop the quarterback from getting extra yardage.”

Rocky running back Nick Romano, who has a scholarship offer from Idaho, has rushed for 1,696 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Colby Jackson has passed for 1,731 yards, 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Last week, Madison loaded the box to take away the run. Romano still ran for 106 yards, and Jackson threw for 205 yards and three TDs.

“We feel we can throw it or run it,” Culig said.

After winning the state title in 2015, Rocky lost in the semifinals each of the last two years, falling to Highland last year.

“They have some great players with one of the best running backs in the state in Romano,” Amos said. “Their defense gives you a ton of different looks out of their three-man front, and bring a lot of pressure. We will have to play with great discipline and make them earn everything. It will be a great challenge that we are very excited about. One thing I know is, this group of players will battle.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday up in Spirit Lake, Timberlake (7-3) looks to advance to the state 3A title game for the first time when it plays host to top-ranked Homedale (10-0) at 1 p.m. at Van Tuinstra Memorial Field.

Homedale is averaging 50.7 points per game, and is allowing 11.1 points per game, with three shutouts.

Mason Kincheloe has rushed for nearly 1,400 yards, with 18 TDs for Homedale. And quarterback Daniel Uranga threw 24 touchdown passes during the regular season.

As for last week’s picks, I went 4-0 on the high school games, 3-1 on the college games. Jason was 3-1 and 3-1.

We both missed on Idaho beating North Dakota, and Jason picked South Fremont to upend Timberlake.

For the season, I am 47-18 on high school games, 29-5 on college, for a total of 76-23. Jason is 46-19 and 24-10, for a total of 70-29.


Coeur d’Alene (9-0) at Rocky Mountain (10-0)

Friday, 6 p.m.

NELKE: The Vikings were fortunate to get past Borah last week. Logic would suggest Coeur d’Alene’s run ends this week in Meridian. I even took a class in logic in college. So naturally ...

Coeur d’Alene, 34-28

ELLIOTT: After having to find a way to win at home last week, Coeur d’Alene cleans that up and does it again this week on the road.

Coeur d’Alene, 38-34

Homedale (10-0) at Timberlake (7-3)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

NELKE: These aren’t your older brother’s Tigers — with a dual-threat quarterback, Timberlake is more than just a running team this year. The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage against South Fremont last week, and though they’re an underdog on their home field, they won’t go down without a fight against the top-ranked Trojans.

Homedale, 36-30

ELLIOTT: Homedale is unbeaten for a reason. Then again, anything can happen in the playoffs, right?

Timberlake, 34-33


Washington State (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) at Colorado (5-4, 2-4)

Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

NELKE: If the Cougs were to slip up prior to the Apple Cup, you would think this would be the place — WSU lost in its last trip to Boulder two years ago. But these aren’t the 2016 Buffaloes — this team lost at home to Oregon State, for goodness sakes.

WSU, 42-34

ELLIOTT: Washington State still holds the biggest key for a Pac-12 team advancing to the College Football Playoffs believe it or not. Believe it, the Cougs appear for real.

WSU, 27-13

Montana (5-4, 3-3 Big Sky) at Idaho (4-5, 3-4)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

NELKE: A week ago, I would have leaned toward the Griz winning in Moscow. But Montana recently lost three straight games, two to teams that Idaho beat — Portland State and North Dakota. Plus, the Vandals are undefeated (4-0) at home this year.

Idaho, 34-28

ELLIOTT: This might be the biggest game in the Kibbie Dome all season long. On one side, you’ve got the Vandals who are chasing an unbeaten home schedule. The other side has the Grizzlies, Jerry Louie-McGee and his knack for big games in Moscow from his time at Lake City High.

Montana, 34-24

Fresno State (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West) at Boise State (7-2, 4-1)

Friday, 7:15 p.m.

NELKE: The Broncos have the Bulldogs right where they want them — on “the blue”, where Boise beat Fresno in last year’s Mountain West championship game, one week after the Bulldogs beat the Broncos in Fresno. It would be bigger news Friday if Fresno could win at Boise — something San Diego State did earlier this season.

Fresno State, 19-13

ELLIOTT: Good teams don’t lose at home in November. So if Boise State is still a good team?

Boise State, 27-20

UC Davis (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky) at Eastern Washington (7-2, 5-1)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

NELKE: The Aggies are an unlikely leader of the Big Sky — UC Davis was picked to finish ninth in the 13-team league by the coaches and the media. The first team that gets a defensive stop might win this one.

EWU, 48-44

ELLIOTT: Eastern seems to be rolling these days. In a close one ...

EWU, 42-38

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