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Week 1 Idaho high school football preview: Top games to watch, players to see, score predictions

Another 5A SIC rivalry clash, a revenge game and the state's longest winning streak being on the line highlight the state's first full slate of action

Here is an inside look at the top high school football games across the state of Idaho during the first full weekend of 2022

CLASS 5A

NO. 5 MOUNTAIN VIEW MAVERICKS (0-0) at NO. 2 MERIDIAN WARRIORS (1-0)

7 p.m. (MST) Friday at Meridian High School

Game nugget: Rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal game where Meridian stunned previously-unbeaten and top-seeded Mountain View, 35-6.

About the Mavericks: Longtime coach Judd Benedick and 13 all-5A SIC players are gone. Former offensive coordinator Brian Compton is now in charge. One of the few holdovers from last year is QB Dawson Wahl, who is a game-time decision. Third-year starter Mason Childs (LB) and versatile junior Grayson Flatten (RB/WR) expected to play.

About the Warriors: Meridian opening 2022 with a 36-14 dismantling of perennial power Eagle last week. Defense was outstanding, holding Mustangs to just 66 yards on 40 plays before late score. Offense held its own as well as WR Tyson Acree (101 receiving yards, TD) and RBs Marco Del Rio and Rylie Byington (combined 132 rushing yards) has big outings.

SBLive Idaho pick: Meridian, 27-17.

CLASS 4A

NO. 4 BLACKFOOT BRONCOS (0-0) at EMMETT HUSKIES (0-0)

7 p.m. (MST) Friday at Emmett High School

Game nugget: First meeting since thrilling 2020 state quarterfinal matchup when Hsukies won, 28-27.

About the Broncos: Blackfoot's recent run of big-game misfortune started here in that state playoff game, giving up a last-second safety to lose. So, a victory here might be what the Broncos need - and they certainly have the horses to do it with 16 returning starters, led by QB Jaxon Grimmett, RB Austin Ramirez and WRs JaVonte King and Deegan Hale. They are part of 30 seniors on team.

About the Huskies: Is Rich Hargitt sand-bagging on how good his team is? He picked his two-time defending 4A SIC champions to place fourth in the league this fall. All-state QB Caden Young is good, but Dakota Perry has turned heads this offseason, and really has the arm talent to produce - especially with speedy WR Stevie Howe at his disposal. Also, watch out for RB/DB Ry Fullerton.

SBLive Idaho pick: Blackfoot, 23-14

CLASS 3A

NO. 6 SNAKE RIVER PANTHERS (0-0) at NO. 3 KIMBERLY BULLDOGS (0-0)

7 p.m. (MST) Friday at Kimberly High School

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Game nugget: Since 2017, neither team has won back-to-back games in this series. Snake River won last year.

About the Panthers: A 3A South East Athletic Conference darkhorse, Snake River welcomes back former coach Jeff Dalley, who led the program to a pair of state titles (2011, 2014). Offensive line has four returning starters, including all-state seniors Josh Curzon and Ben Matthews.

About the Bulldogs: Will be interesting to see what this offense looks like minus top 2024 recruit Gatlin Bair, who transferred 30 miles east to Burley in the offseason. And that task falls to new coach Joe Dille, the team's ex-defensive line coach. RB Michael Goff and WR Connor Laughlin are weapons.

SBLive Idaho pick: Snake River, 35-20

CLASS 2A

NO. 1 WEST SIDE PIRATES (0-0) at NO. 2 FIRTH COUGARS (0-0)

7 p.m. (MST) Friday at Firth High School

Game nugget: These two programs have met for the state championship the past two seasons.

About the Pirates: Is the state's longest winning streak at 32 games in jeopardy on the road? The three-time defending state champions don't feel like there will be much drop-off with a revamped lineup, led by RBs Easton Shurtliff and Parker Mose, and QB Eli Brown.

About the Cougars: Firth has its own streak it would like to end - an eight-game skid to the Pirates. With nine all-conference players back, this is its change. Seniors Kyle Jacobsen (LB), Alex Vasques (DB), Burton Park (DB), Mario Lizaraga (OL) and junior Arik Blonquist (DL) were all-state performers last fall.

SBLive Idaho pick: Firth, 34-28

CLASS 1A

NO. 1 (1A DII) KENDRICK TIGERS (0-0) vs. NO. 4 (1A DI) NOTUS PIRATES (0-0)

11 a.m. (MST) Saturday at Middleton High School

Game nugget: Kendrick won its fourth state title last fall; Notus has never won one.

About the Tigers: After losing just one player off last year's state championship squad, Kendrick is a heavy favorite in this season opener. QB Ty Keopp (2,400 yards, 46 TDs), a junior, is electric, and OL/DL Dallas Morgan was an all-state pick on both sides. Tigers were winless against 1A D1 squads last season.

About the Pirates: Despite ruling the 1A Western Idaho Conference the past two seasons, program still in search of signature victory. With six all-conference returners, including RB Carter Woodland - the league's offensive MVP - and DL Aaron Jimenez, this lines up as that type of moment. 

SBLive Idaho pick: Kendrick, 48-33