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 Bishop Kelly.
As the coach of one of Idaho’s most successful high school football programs in the last quarter century, Tim Brennan has never had any trouble getting turnout at Bishop Kelly.
But what he had last year is unlike anything he’s ever seen before.
With new seniors joining the team for the 2020 season, the Knights now have 29 seniors set the play this year, the largest senior class Brennan said he has ever had.
“We have nine new seniors who didn’t play last year,” Brennan said. “Some of them played as freshmen or sophomores, a couple didn’t play at all in high school. We’ll have a big freshman class that will be 45-plus. Those things are really exciting because of the interest. The kids are fired up and there’s a lot of reasons, they missed part of their spring and summer.”
During summer workouts, Brennan said that he’s had about 130 kids who are showing up regularly, a year after having 105 in the program.
“Everybody is going to have to understand their role on a team that’s got over 60 kids on the varsity team that are juniors and seniors,” Brennan said. “But they will, they’ll understand their role and contribute.”
The Knights are coming off a 7-3 season, with all three of their losses coming to eventual state semifinalist teams. Bishop Kelly lost to Nampa and eventual 4A state champion Kuna in the regular season, then lost again to Nampa, 35-28, in the state quarterfinals.
Bishop Kelly graduated 10 all-conference players off, but for a program that has won seven state titles since 1994, there is an expectation to keep things rolling.
Brennan will have to break in a new starting quarterback after last year’s starter, Stanford signee Beau Nelson, graduated. Senior Keegan Croteau and junior Caden Casagrande are both in the running to start under center, with Brennan saying both will likely get an opportunity to play.
Both were wide receivers last year, with Croteau being a second-team All-Southern Idaho Conference selection.
“I would probably say Keegan’s going to be the starter right now,” Brennan said. “But Caden is going to play, so Keegan can do some other things. He can play receiver, he can play running back, he can do a lot of things.”
Whoever is the starting quarterback will be joined by a rotating cast of running backs in the backfield, as Brennan said as many as seven different players could see significant time at fullback or halfback.
“We’re going to have as much depth as we’ve ever had in that sense,” Brennan said. “Because some of those kids didn’t start on the varsity team, it will be interesting to see who steps up to become ‘the guy,’ or if there’s going to be more than one guy.”
Defensively, the Knights will be very experienced up front as four senior starters return to the defensive line. Manu Lete, a first-team all-conference selection at defensive end last year, will anchor that group. He’ll be the only returning first-team player for Bishop Kelly, but that’s not indicative of the talent that Brennan expects the Knights to have this year.
“It’s going to be an interesting year because with the depth we got, I don’t know how many All-State guys we have, but we got a lot of good football players,” he said.