Photo by Andrew Ottoson
With the likes of Jace Perrin, Jacob Stubbers, Hunter Chaffee, Dereck Arnzen and Nick Mager on board, the 2017 Prairie Pirates may once again be a playoff team out of the Whitepine League. The Pirates were seeded third in the WPL last season, having finished 6-1 alongside Lapwai and Troy, and were eliminated by Notus during a quarterfinal down south. This season opens with a key early test against Genesee: PHS plays there at 7 p.m. Sept. 1.
As of Thursday, August 31, 2017
The Pirates are healthy and on their way to readiness for their next game — which will be one of the 1AD1 classification’s most consequential season openers.
Though it comes early, Prairie’s Sept. 1 visit to Genesee is potentially decisive in the Whitepine League, where three teams finished 6-1 and where Genesee finished two games back, having lost to each of the front-runners: Prairie, Lapwai and Troy.
Lapwai was hit hard by graduation, but with a big step forward, any of these teams could run the table.
Coach Ryan Hasselstrom has 26 out this fall, including 11 upperclassmen and a handful of underclassmen who figure to play varsity.
“With Hayden Uhlenkott, Owen Anderson and Derek Shears, there might be four or five sophomores who give us varsity minutes,” Hasselstrom said. “Shears started off-and-on late in the season last year because he’s fast. He will start at receiver and the rest of them will be backups who get some minutes.”
The Pirates graduated a 1,500-yard rusher, Lucas Arnzen, and leading linebacker Brandon Anderson, and have strength in the upper ranks once again.
“Jake Stubbers will step in at running back,” Hasselstrom said. “He played wide receiver last year and will move to the backfield, and Caleb McWilliams, who shared minutes at fullback with Brandon Anderson will take over that spot.”
“We’re still a little bit up in the air about who we’re going to fill that linebacker spot with,” Hasselstrom said. “Brandon Anderson was one of the best we’ve probably ever had.”
Nick Mager and Jace Perrin are likely candidates.
One of Prairie’s most formidable players will be Spencer Schumacher — a quarterback who punishes defenses with both runs and throws, but who may make an even bigger impact at defensive end.
“He’s a force,” Hasselstrom said. “We’ve got to get him in shape to play both ways and be physical every play on the line, but he’s going to be a handful.”
Schumacher has a strong arm and Hasselstrom wants to see him become more accurate.
Jayce Huling figures to be prominent in the offensive and defensive backfields, and look out for Carson Schmidt along the offensive and defensive lines.
“We hope to be solid on both the run and the pass,” Hasselstrom said.
Among Prairie’s non-league games is the Sept. 8 home opener against Salmon River.
Sept. 1 at Genesee
Sept. 8 vs. Salmon River
Sept. 15 vs. Council
Sept. 22 at CV
Sept. 29 vs. Kamiah
Oct. 6 at Troy
Oct. 14 at Wallace
Oct. 20 vs. Potlatch
Oct. 27 at Lapwai