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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 Ridgevue.

Wins have been few and far in between through the first four years of the Ridgevue football program, but as the Warhawks enter their fifth season, they start the year with something they've never had before entering a season — a winning streak to build upon.

Ridgevue closed the 2019 season with a 42-30 win against Columbia and if it can win its season opener — currently scheduled for Aug. 21 at home against Boise — it will mark just the second time the Warhawks have won two games in a row.

“It's great confidence for us,” Ridgevue coach Tom DeWitz said about winning the last game. “We believe our attendance and enthusiasm in summer workouts has been the best since I've been here. And the older guys that got to play last year and got to be a part of the win at the end of last season, they're hungry for more. They're doing the work that it takes to be successful and hopefully that will work out for us.”

The Warhawks graduated their first four-year class last season as the freshmen from the school's first year hit their senior years. That group of seniors went 8-28 during their four years, including a 2-7 record last year. As Ridgevue looks to start moving toward a winning tradition, it will change up its defensive scheme in an attempt to play to its strengths.

With plenty of experience at linebacker coming into the year, the Warhawks will switch from a four-man front to a primarily three-man front, getting more linebackers on the field.

Three starting linebackers return in seniors Zander Mallard, Kolton McKie and Treyson Hoagland. DeWitz says Mallard has both size and speed and can provide the Warhawks with big hits. Hoagland will start on both sides of the ball and the coach said his football IQ helps him read opposing offenses really well. McKie is a versatile player who can also line up at safety.

“He can play both of those positions really well and with our new defense, he's the guy that's doing the adjusting," DeWitz said of McKie. "If the (opposing) team goes in motion or shifts formations, Kolton's the guy who's going to be moving around and let the other guys play ball.”

Senior Dylon Fehrs will be a fourth returning starter for the Warhawks' defense, coming back at cornerback after missing the end of last year with a concussion.

On the offense, Ridgevue will have two returning starters, both along the offensive line. Senior Logan Klinginsmith, who has been starting since midway though his freshman year, and junior Massimo Valle, who came on strong for the Warhawks at the end of last year, both return.

Junior Cole McDonald will take over at the quarterback position this year after pushing last year's starter, Isaas Albor, throughput the fall. A year older, McDonald will be a duel-threat quarterback who can hurt opposing defenses in several different ways.

“He's a solid athlete, he's got a good arm and can run the ball,” DeWitz said. “We're going to ask him to do all of that. Most of our run plays are going to involve him doing some sort of read, where he can either hand it off or run the ball himself or throw the ball in some sort of RPO (run-pass option) thing. He's very intelligent, he's our (Associated Student Body) President, he's a great leader and he has really stepped up big for us. Our offense is going to revolve around what he can do.”

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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