Preston football heads to playoffs against Minico

Freshman Owen Pearson kicks a point after touchdown against Minico.

Preston ended their regular football season with a loss in a non-conference game against the Snake River Panthers 36 — 20, but the Indian’s season isn’t over yet. The team received an at-Large bid in the Idaho 4A Great Basin 10 playoffs and will travel to Minico on Friday to face off once again with the first place team, Minico. The two teams clashes once before and PHS lost by two points, the closest game yet in Minico’s season. Preston also held the power-scoring team well below Minico’s scoring average.

Last week, Preston traveled to Snake River and played with sophomore quarterback, Brecker Knapp. He filled in for a recovering Ty Hyde, who sustained a shoulder injury in the game against Pocatello. Also, Preston’s Isaiah Smith, was taken out with an injury at the end of the first quarter.

The game saw no score until the second quarter when Snake River stopped Preston 10 yards in front of the goal line. Indian’s defense came out and stopped the Panthers from gaining any yards. Snake River attempted to punt the ball on their fourth down but the kick bounced off the shin of the Panthers’ kicker and popped straight up in the air. Preston’s Conner Shaffer caught the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. Freshman Owen Pearson completed the PAT and brought the score to 7-0. Snake River answered back by tying the score on the next drive.

Preston’s defense over-powered the Panthers’ offense, filling the game with back and forth ball possession — each team only going three and out before the Indians’ offense turned over the ball with an interception thrown by Knapp on the 5-yard line. The turn-over helped Preston by starting Snake River’s drive at the opposite end of the field at the end of the first half.

The third quarter continued to show the strength of Preston’s defense as Zay Davis attacked on almost every stop of Snake River’s carries. The Indian’s defensive line stacked the middle on the Panther’s fourth down attempt and turned over the ball to PHS.

Preston’s offense set up as Andrew Iverson broke a tackle from Snake River’s defense and he was gone for a 50-yard touch down. Snake River answered back and completed a tw0-point conversation, putting them on top by one point and followed with three more touchdowns. Preston saw their last touch down in at the end of the fourth quarter when Gordon Knapp scored on a 61-yard touchdown pass.

“The line did a good job giving Brecker enough time to throw the ball,” said Gordon Knapp. “I thought we played pretty well with having a new quarterback and stayed in the game for the first half. It just wasn’t enough in the end. We really unite and stay together until the end of the games. We just have those little middle areas that struggled tonight. I love all my guys though, the offense line, the quarterbacks. And I love my receivers that help me get open.”

“Our line did good,” said senior lineman Brock Schenk. “We did miss a few blocks when they did things we weren’t expecting. They threw more than we anticipated and we needed to block better for our quarterback. He is new for us, so we are still getting use to his set up in the pocket. We had hurt people and then Isaiah went out with his knee. So, it was hard to deal with that when we’ve been used to knowing who is next to us doing their job and trying our best with a new quarterback.”

Defensive stats for Preston were led once again by Davis with 23 tackles, and Andrew Iverson had 10 tackles with a total of nine yards loss. Conner Shaffer collected 11 tackles and a blocked kick with a touchdown on a punt. Tait “Taco” Rawlings had seven tackles and caused a fumble. Garrett Ward had six tackles with yards lost. Emery Thorson, Hunter Wright, Kaden Barnard, Chevy Nelson, Justin Inglet, Brock Schenk, Parker Gilbert, Gordon Knapp, Cole Harris, and Austin Liberty each averaged two or more tackles for the game as well.

“I feel we should have done better,” said Parker Gilbert. “We did prepare to play, but we mentally didn’t prepare enough. We really should have covered their plays. We had a few glaring errors and that is what brought us down. We did bring it back towards the fourth quarter but it just wasn’t enough to save us this time.”

Offensive stats were led by Brecker Knapp who passed 166 yards. Gordon Knapp lead receiving and Harris was a close second. With Smith out of the game two new receivers, Tate Green and Justin Inglet gained some yards for Preston stats. Rushing was lead by Iverson with only 90 of his usual triple digit numbers. Special teams saw some new names as well with Tate Green collecting 63 yards total on returns.

“Tonight was a back and fourth battle between two teams,” said Eric Thorson, head coach. “Snake River is a very good team. I’m proud of the boys, as always. They are good young men that are working hard. We are looking forward to the playoffs now and that is where we are going to focus.”

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