A year after running away with the 1A Western Idaho Conference football title, Notus shows no signs of slowing down.
The Pirates are hoping their experience can drive them to the next step.
Notus returns five starters on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, including six all-conference selections, from a team that went through the regular season unbeaten, including an average margin of victory of 46 points in its four conference games.
All that talent returning in Notus, coupled with a 41-6 loss to Lighthouse Christian in the Division I state quarterfinals, has the Pirates shooting high coming into the 2021 season.
“That playoff loss obviously left a bad taste in their mouths,” said coach Joe Woodland. “They’re extremely motivated, I’m averaging 15-20 guys in the weight room. We expect if we stay healthy, lift weights and do the things we’re supposed to do, we should be competitive in the playoffs.”
In that playoff loss to Lighthouse Christian, Woodland said the Pirates were down to just 14 players who were able to suit up for the game, so staying healthy will be key this year.
Included in Notus’ returners is both the WIC’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. Offensive Player of the Year Kaeden Clemens will be in his fourth season starting under center for the Pirates.
“Athletically, he throws as good of a ball as anyone in our conference and the 1A classification,” Woodland said. “He’s a super smart kid when it comes to the X’s and O’s. He understands the offense, not just his position, but everyone’s position. So anytime we want to add a wrinkle or change, he can adapt to that.”
Notus does lose first-team all-conference wide receiver Mack Shimondle, but Clemens will still have plenty of options to throw the ball to. Junior Eli Hill, who was a starter last season, is one Woodland points to.
First-Team all-conference running back Carter Woodland will also be running routes out of the backfield. When Woodland and honorable mention Elijah Martin run the ball, they will be helped out by an offensive line that Joe Woodland says is one of the biggest in the 1A ranks.
Senior Kellen Parks, a first-team selection at offensive line last year, and junior Aaron Jiminez both return as starters and they will be joined by sophomore Easton St. Germain, who got in the mix last year.
Defensively, Jiminez and Julian Gallegos will make the Pirates’ line a tough unit to deal with if they can stay healthy. Gallegos, who had 17 sacks at defensive end a year ago, was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, but Woodland said there is a friendly rivalry between him and Jiminez on who will get that honor this year.
Jiminez was a first-team all-conference selection at defensive tackle last season.
“I like the internal competition, because I know they care about one another and want to see each other succeed,” said Woodland. “They’re pushing each other, which makes both of them better, makes the whole team better. It makes the whole team want to come up and compete for that recognition.”