Kuna vs Middleton FOOTBALL

Middleton’s Cash Cowdery (1) dives for the goal line as he is brought down by Kuna’s Parker Shaw (33) in a 4A state semifinal game on Nov. 15, 2019.

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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 Middleton.

Having to replace seven first-team all-conference players and four more from the second team might seem like a tall task. But for Middleton coach Bill Brock, that’s just high school football.

Fresh off a trip to the 4A state semifinals, the Vikings return to the field without many of its stars from a year ago. Middleton returns just four starters on the offensive side of the ball and five on the defensive side. For the Vikings’ coach, who is entering his 21st season, it’s business as normal.

“The coolest thing about high school football is every year it’s different, no matter how many kids you have coming back,” Brock said. “It’s just a different dynamic, a different group of kids are going to have to step it up and lead. So obviously this year will be no different. We’ve got a lot of young kids that are very talented. I think they just need an opportunity to play.”

In the Vikings’ air raid offense, finding a replacement for first-team quarterback Dallas Hagler, who passed for 3,021 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, will be key.

Senior Ray Aguilar-Gallup, Hagler’s backup last year, and junior Ky McClure, last year’s junior varsity quarterback, are both vying for the starting position, Brock said.

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, McClure is a bigger quarterback than what the Vikings have had in the past, but he can still get the ball downfield with both his arm and his legs, Brock said, having spent a year with the varsity. Aguilar-Gallup has gained game knowledge and has a leg up on reading defenses.

“They’ve been working hard and they’ve both improved,” Brock said. “We’ll see how that all works out.”

Whoever will be throwing the ball will have some tall options to throw the ball to as the Vikings wide receiver corps will include a trio of basketball players. Cash Cowdery, who is 6-3, and Tyler Medaris, listed at 6-7, are both returning after big years for the Vikings last year. Dallin McKnight, who Brock said is 6-4, will also be joining Middleton from its basketball team.

“It definitely doesn’t hurt, that’s quite an advantage, we feel like,” Brock said about the size at receiver. “Ideally, those are the type of kids you are looking for, the tall athletic kids that can run and catch.”

Along the offensive line, the Vikings lose Gaard Memmelaar, who is on the University of Washington’s roster this fall. But junior Isaiah Pearson is back after showing great strides during his sophomore season, as is senior Trenton Hogan, who Brock said was recovering from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in the spring but is hoping to be ready for the season.

“Those two guys out there have experience and are great leaders by example,” Brock said. “We’ve got some seniors that didn’t get to play last year as juniors as much as they wanted because we had those other seniors in front of them. We’ve got a handful of kids that can go out and play.”

Defensively, the Vikings’ strength will be in the backfield, Brock said. Seniors Merit Foote and Evan St. Michell are expected to anchor that unit.

“Merit ended up being an honorable mention all-conference guy and second-team all-state guy,” Brock said. “Not sure how that works. Not a perfect science for sure, but that’s fine. He ended up with seven interceptions for us last year and he’ll be a big part of what we do on both sides of the ball.”

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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