The Middleton Vikings don’t just have returning experience, they have lots of it this year.

The Vikings are returning 15 starters from a team that had a fourth quarter lead against eventual state champion Hillcrest in the 4A state quarterfinal. Ten of those returning starters enter the season with at least two years of starting experience.

“We’ve got a lot of kids coming back with some good experience,” said Middleton coach Bill Brock. “Being our third year in our offensive system, we feel like we’re more adjusted to what we need to do and how to go about it. So we’re excited in that regard.”

Middleton’s air raid passing attack gets a boost from returning quarterback Dallas Hagler, who threw for more than 2,700 yards and 35 touchdowns in his first season starting. Jace Rodgers, who caught touchdown passes, is also back for his fourth season.

Rodgers is one of three players who have started each of the last three seasons. Offensive guard Gaard Memmelaar, a University of Washington commit, and linebacker Jake Beitia are each entering their fourth season in the starting lineup.

“It’s good to have some guys with experience like that,” Brock said. “They’ve been through it, they’ve been through the campaigns now and they lead by example. All three play hard and we’re looking for big things from all three of them."

In each of the past two years, Middleton has seen its season end with a playoff loss to the eventual state champion. The Vikings fell 21-13 to Skyline in the 2017 semifinals, before losing 21-17 against Hillcrest last season.

“We were in both games the last two years and just fell short,” said Brock. “This year we just want to finish them and give ourselves an opportunity to put ourselves in that position. I’m not sure what the magic recipe is, we just got to work hard, continue to get better and see what happens.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

GAARD MEEMELAAR, SR., OL

It’s been more than a year since Meemelaar committed to Washington, and Brock said his offensive guard is a different player than he was last year. “He is going to be a physical dominant presence, to say the least,” said Brock. “He has had a great year and he’s a big, strong athletic kid. He’s going to have a huge year for us.”

DALLAS HAGLER, SR., QB

Brock was impressed with Hagler's maturation process in his first season starting last year. “He was one of those first year varsity guys, and I think it took him a month into the season before he really started understanding what was going on,” Brock said. “Towards the end of last year he was getting pretty good. He had a good summer and we’re looking for big things from him.”

TEAM FACTS

Coach: Bill Brock, 20th season

Coach Record: 109-86

Last Year: 8-3, 6-2 4A SIC

Playoffs: Lost 21-17 to Hillcrest in quarterfinals

Returning Starters (Offense): 6

Returning Starters (Defense): 9

League: 4A Southern Idaho Conference

League Playoff Berths: 5

State Titles: none