Homedale vs. Timberlake

Milo Mertz (3) and Hayden Kincheloe (23) celebrate during a 3A state semifinal game against Timberlake on Nov. 16, 2019, in Homedale.

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The Idaho Press is counting down to the start of the 2020 high school football season by spotlighting all of the teams and the top players from the Treasure Valley. Next up is Homedale.

After two straight seasons of making it to the 3A state championship game, the expectation of being a winning program has returned to the Homedale football team.

Losing 13 all-conference players to graduation isn’t going to change that.

A group of seniors with championship-level experience and a junior varsity team which has won three straight conference championships has the Trojans looking at a reload, not a rebuild, as they aim high yet again this fall.

“That’s where we’re at now as a program,” Homedale coach Matt Holtry said. “Not every program gets to say that, that your goal is to be in the state championship game, and that’s what you’re competing for. When I took the job here 11 years ago, that was the expectation. And growing up around the Treasure Valley that was always the expectation of Homedale football — we were either in the state championship game, or winning it.”

Among the talent the Trojans will be looking to replace are 3A Snake River Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year Daniel Uranga, Defensive Player of the Year Spencer Fisher and Special Teams Player of the Year Nelson Lomeli.

Defensively, the Trojans have a strong corps of linebackers to help fill the void left open by Fisher. Senior John Breshears was a first-team All-Conference linebacker for Homedale last year, while senior Milo Mertz is a player who Holtry said could have a breakout year.

“When you have the group we had the last two years that were seniors last year, it kind of hid some of these kids that were exceptional athletes,” Holtry said. “They just maybe had a better athlete in front of them that were seniors. Had they both been juniors it might have been harder deciding who to start. These kids have been waiting for their opportunity. The past three years in a row our JV has won the conference and those kids have proven they know what it takes to be successful.”

Holtry is just as confident in filling the spot left by Uranga at quarterback. Sophomore Jaxon Dines, who was the conference scoring leader in boys basketball as a freshman, will take over. Dines becomes the latest quarterback to have a chance to start multiple years for the Trojans.

Dines is more of an option quarterback, Holtry said, but he has the ability to throw the ball when he needs to.

“It just brings a different dimension,” Holtry said. “Teams that have been used to (former Homedale quarterback) Lawsen Matteson and Daniel Uranga with us throwing the ball as much as we have the last six or seven years, it kind of brings a different dimension to the scheme. When teams are preparing for you, they can’t just go to the cards that they had last year. They got to rebuild the cards and re-prepare for you. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air, so to speak.”

Despite Homedale losing All-3A SRV first-team running back Karsen Freelove, Dines will still have a strong group of running backs to help him out. Junior Hayden Kincheloe, a second-team selection last year, returns, as does honorable mention Dawson Fox, a senior. Rylan Binford, a sophomore who got a bigger role in the playoffs as a freshman due to injuries, will be a full-time varsity player this season.

“He had a 22-yard touchdown run in the playoffs and he just showed his game speed,” Holtry said about Binford. “It was nice to see a freshman doing those things. We feel good, we’ve got Hayden and Dawson and Binford at running back. We feel good about that.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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