MELBA — Cache Beus is not one to step away from a challenge on the football field.
Whether it’s pulling double duty on the defensive line after leading the Melba football team down the field at quarterback or going toe-to-toe with some of the top quarterbacks playing at some of the larger schools in Idaho, the junior has answered every call.
Melba hopes that confidence can pay off as the Mustangs open their Western Idaho Conference slate at 7 p.m. today with a game against Cole Valley Christian at College of Idaho’s Simplot Stadium. The Mustangs (4-1) will be looking for their second conference title in three years.
They come in looking like a team ready to put up points. Over Melba’s last three games, the Mustangs have averaged 66.3 points per game.
Even with the games getting out of hand earlier than normal, Beus has still put up 954 passing yards with 11 touchdowns to two interceptions.
“I’ve gotten a lot more confident,” Beus said about this season. “I’ve been working all summer long with the boys and we’re looking good.”
Melba coach Juan Colunga said he’s noticed a lot more patience in his quarterback this season when compared to his first season as a starter, during his sophomore year. Last year, Colunga said, Beus had a tendency to commit to the deep pass early. While he has the ability to chuck the ball down the field, opposing defenses would be able to key in on that.
This year, Colunga says, Beus is doing a much better job of making multiple reads on a play, making it tougher for defenses to figure out what he is doing.
“This year, he’s done a really good job, even in practice, with the progression from the first to second to third,” Colunga said. “It’s very noticeable. There’s no question that he’s taken the time this summer to get better at every mechanic possible — footwork, arm strength, timing. Now with the system, he’s reading the progression and it’s showing.”
He got the chance to show off some of his talents against bigger competition over the summer, as Melba, a 2A school, went to various 7-on-7 camps throughout the area, and competed with the likes of Eagle, Bishop Kelly and Mountain View. Against 4A Bishop Kelly, the Mustangs lost on a last second touchdown. At the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, they took 5A Mountain View to five overtimes in knockout play.
“It really boosted our confidence,” Beus said about the matchup with Mountain View. “They definitely were not expecting us to be that close with them. We really shocked them and we shocked the whole tournament.”
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A lot of the confidence and competitiveness, Colunga says, was already there when Beus moved back into the Melba School District in his eighth grade year from South Junior High in Nampa. While in Nampa, Beus was playing in the Skyview feeder program.
But as he approached his high school years, Beus moved back to Melba, where he had attended school through third grade, and where his father, Dan, had been a former quarterback and where he had several uncles play football as well.
“I hadn’t been here for five years, but I came back and it was great,” Beus said. “I love this community.”
His first two years, Beus said former Melba quarterback Henry Clark took him under his wing and served as a mentor.
After Clark graduated in 2020, Beus took over.
“When he came here as an eighth grader, I coached him in basketball, too,” Colunga said. “Sometimes you forget that this 6-foot-3 eighth grade-looking kid is just 13 years old. He’s obviously a very imposing kid and he’s only gotten thicker and stronger. Last year, I think he was 180 (pounds), now he’s like 205. No question, since we met him, he’s been an incredible athlete in multiple sports.”
Beus was a part of the Mustangs’ 2A state championship basketball team in the winter.
Much like Clark, Beus also plays along the defensive line, mainly as someone to come in when the starters need a break. He has recorded four tackles this season, one for a loss.
Colunga said that it might not be ideal to have the quarterback taking hits from offensive linemen, but because of their small roster players are usually forced to play two ways. And with Beus’s size, it was hard to say no to him being on the line.
“He played a little safety for us last year, and he was like ‘Coach, let me be on the line,’” Colunga said. “He’s very powerful, sometimes we just blow the whistle and let them go for 5-10 seconds. I’ll tell you what, he’s one of the top three guys out there. So, he’s very physical, too.”