Cale Kynett sparked the Douglas High football team’s offense Saturday when the senior tailback rushed for 152 yards and one touchdown to go with a 73-yard touchdown reception. If you ask coach Ernie Monfiletto, however, it was the defense that set the tempo for the Tigers in their 31-28 season-opening victory against Minico (Rupert, Idaho) at the seventh annual Rocky Mountain Rumble in Pocatello, Idaho.
“Those kids set the tone from start to end, and the rest of the team fed off that effort.” Monfiletto said of the defense. “I think those kids run to the football and they play hard-nosed Douglas football. There is no way around their aggression. That’s something they enjoy, rallying to the football and being dominant.”
Douglas led 31-14 in the fourth quarter then held off a late comeback by Minico to win at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena. That defensive dominance was key on a day when the the Tigers turned the ball over four times on fumbles.
Just consider the following:
■ The Spartans and their wing-T attack were held to 13 yards rushing on 26 attempts. They did throw for 318 yards as quarterback Tanner Harper completed 19 of 38 pass attempts, however, 201 of those yards came in the first half. A key for the Spartans was the loss of standout wide receiver Niko Chavez due to a concussion after gaining 189 yards in the first half, including touchdown receptions of 31 and 65 yards.
■ Eight different Douglas defenders were involved in tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including three quarterback sacks by tackle Zach Singer. Defensive end Taran Grove, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, also batted down three passes.
■ Trailing 7-6 at the start of the second quarter, Minico threatened on back-to-back possessions thanks to long pass completions, only to be denied when Bryce James and Kaleb Foster intercepted passes. James picked off a fourth-and-five pass at the 12 that was hurried due to pressure from Singer. And Foster returned his pick 93 yards for a touchdown and 13-6 lead.
■ It’s possible the turning point came in the final seven minutes before halftime. Minico led 14-13 and got the ball back at its own 46 following a punt. Singer broke through for a sack on first down, assisted by nose guard Andrew Jensen. A second down shovel pass play was stopped for a 4-yard loss by sophomore middle linebacker Reagan Roberson. Then on third down, Kynett tackled Chavez on a reverse for an 8-yard loss. The Spartans punted the ball away and Douglas scored its go-ahead touchdown on Kynett’s 33-yard run.
Tim Perrigot, in his 19th year as head coach at Minico, gave credit to the Tigers when he spoke to Nick Ruland of the Twin Falls Times-News.
“They’re a lot like us,” Perrigot said. “They’re physical boys. They’re real strong up front. We wanted to establish the running game; we didn’t want to throw the ball as much as we did.”
Kynett, a 5-10, 215-pound tailback, accounted for 225 yards in total offense. He showed impressive speed at the end of the first quarter when he caught a short pass from quarterback Nick Abreu in the right flat, eluded a tackle attempt by Minico all-state lineman Josh Barclay, and cut back across the field on his way to a 73-yard touchdown. Later, Kynett hurdled through a gap created by a block from Singer at the line of scrimmage for his go-ahead touchdown run.
“Cale was just a bowling ball; once he gets rolling, he’s hard to stop,” Monfiletto said. “He’s not just limited to carrying the ball, either. He’s an important part of that defense. That takes a lot of courage; it says worlds for those kids to be on the field as much as they were. I credit them for being mentally tough and understanding what had to happen.”
Brothers Andrew and Josh Jensen also played key roles up front on offense and defense. Andrew Jensen, a 6-3, 243-pound senior, was presented with the Chad’s Rentals Player of the Game and $1,000 scholarship check, donated by Marty and Cindy Hoge (Marty’s brother, Merril Hoge, played running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Idaho State and for Highland High School in Pocatello).
“It was well-deserved,” Monfiletto said of Jensen’s award. “I think they could have picked a couple of kids, but it’s great to give an offensive and defensive lineman that little extra attention.”
Abreu rushed for 110 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run to cap a 15-play, 74-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Abreu’s touchdown gave Douglas a 31-14 lead with 8:56 left to play and the Tigers were able to hold on as Minico rallied to score two late touchdowns, the last with 43 seconds showing on the clock.
“He has a great program and those kids showed a lot of spunk and desire to not lay down at the end,” Monfiletto said of Perrigot and the Spartans.
The Tigers have already turned their attention to their next game Friday night at North Valleys.
“It’s a great way to start,” Monfiletto said on Monday. “We can’t hang our hat on this one, but it’s a great way to start and we will build on this. Everybody got to celebrate on Saturday, but today, we’re back to work.”