Last time Grangeville played for the state title, the 200-yard rusher was the name of the Bulldogs’ ground game, and the GHS passing attack played off the rhythm of Justin Robie’s bruising runs.
In some ways — with fewer players, greater youth, and with a more prominent passing attack — these Bulldogs couldn’t be more different from that title team.
“Even personalities are so different from that team,” coach Jeff Lindsley said. “We had enough depth in rotation that year, there was a confidence — it didn’t matter who we played. The biggest difference is, we don’t have the depth we normally do, so we have four freshmen playing in a championship game.”
But GHS has a group of seniors that carry similar confidence against any opponent, and senior tailback Jake Kaschmitter’s rumbling for 205 yards during Grangeville’s 48-35 win over Nampa Christian put a punctuation mark on another big similarity: a victory in the semifinal. (Only four football teams in school history can make that claim.)
While undefeated Aberdeen looms over the 2A title game, 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Kibbie Dome, these Bulldogs have earned the chance to play for the school’s second football title. Against Nampa Christian, GHS overcame what Lindsley called “freshman mistakes.”
Grangeville dominated the first half, but a couple of broken plays kept Nampa Christian in the game.
The Bulldogs blew it open during the second quarter, tallying four touchdowns that widened the lead from 13-0 to 33-7. During the surge, Nampa Christian completed a 48-yard touchdown pass on account of mixup in the secondary, for which freshman Booker Bush atoned with sound defense against a trick play late in the game.
Grangeville’s defensive ends were handed a tough task — jam the Trojans’ tight end, and also keep leverage and containment against outside runs. In conjunction with coverage by Cole Lindsley against the Trojans top receiver, GHS kept Nampa Christian in check deep into the second quarter.
The score difference tightened to 12, 40-28, when an interception return set up a touchdown late in the third quarter.
Grangeville answered with a touchdown pass from Layton Harris to Jack Lawrence.
Then the Trojans, increasingly desperate, tried a flea flicker. Faking a reverse and pitching back to the passer, they tried to catch a young defensive back out of position, but Bush defended the deep throw perfectly.
“The young guys have really stepped up,” coach Jeff Lindsley said. “We don’t have to over-coach them. They’re so competitive.”
Lindsley said the blockers out in front of Kaschmitter matched the bruising runner’s effort — and vice-versa, creating a loop that grew increasingly positive as the game went on.
“Our o-line is kind of cause-and-effect,” Lindsley said. “The harder Jake runs, the harder they play...Those groups go really well together.”
The senior skill players took the Trojans by storm early in the game. Austin Parks caught three touchdown passes from Harris, before GHS broke through on the ground. Luke Stokes scored on a 5-yard run, then Kaschmitter broke a 55-yard score. Stokes added another touchdown run later in the game.
Coming — Aberdeen (11-0) topped Declo 28-7 to reach the final. The Tigers run out of one very compact formation on the vast majority of their downs.
“Offensively, we’ll do what we do,” Lindsley said. “Defensively, it’ll be the first butt-sniffer team we’ve faced. A lot of teams will try to completely re-do what they do to try to defend that sniffer formation. It’s going to take some time and some extra reps to prepare to face that...but it presents challenges. They have great running backs, they’re fast, and they do a very good job of hiding the football. They’re going to compile some yards, there’s no question about that. It’s going to come down to controlling that, and not allowing them to go on long drives.”
Aberdeen has not allowed more than 26 points in a game all season. The Tigers defeated St. Maries — the only common opponent — 17-0. The Bulldogs (8-3) beat the Lumberjacks 27-12.
The 2A title showdown will follow the 4A championship game and will be followed by the 1AD2 championship game as part of the showcase the Idaho High School Activities Association has scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Kibbie Dome.
Grangeville-Aberdeen is set to kick off at 4 p.m.