Kubs on the climb

Kamiah returns a stout six core players from the squad that put a couple of the Whitepine League leaders to the test in 2017. Pictured are (from left): Gabriel Eades, Bret Raymond, Peyton Whipple, Layton Gould, Titus Oatman and Chad Simmons.

The Kamiah boys once again have their work cut out for them this season — and having won two more games last autumn than they did the one before, the Kubs are looking to build on the foundation they set last fall.

In a different circumstance, having three seniors might portend a down year — but Kamiah coach Nels Kludt had 24 out for picture day and was glad to see the Kubs’ numbers bounce back.

“One year, we had 13 at the end of the season,” he chuckled, “so we’ll take 24.”

Last season, the Kubs put two of the Whitepine League’s top teams to the test, with a midseason game against Prairie hinging on Pirates big plays just before and just after halftime. The next week against Lapwai, Kamiah had two cracks at completing a last-second, lead-changing touchdown pass, but came away with a 40-36 loss. The Kubs also lamented an early-season blowout loss to rival Clearwater Valley.

A win over any of those three would have vaulted Kamiah into the top half of the standings.

Kamiah’s strength early in the season will be up front, with linemen Layton Gould and Peyton Whipple clearing paths for running backs Titus Oatman and Bret Raymond and quarterback Chad Simmons.

“Once we get our receivers acclimated with our quarterback, we’ll mix in the pass a bit more,” Kludt said. “I’d like to be balanced by the time we get a couple of games in, but it just takes more time to get the passing game involved.”

As a reserve quarterback for Grangeville two years ago, Simmons made a memorable play running for a touchdown in overtime at McCall. Having transferred last fall, he played JV while Kaleb Oatman, now penciled in as a quarterback for the LC Loggers, directed the varsity.

This fall, Prairie, Genesee and Lapwai figure to be league-leaders once again.

Kludt likes his group.

“We had our traveling camp here a couple of weeks ago and it was really good,” Kludt said. “This group works extremely hard. ... They’ve busted their butts this off-season and they’re ready to play. For a lot of them, it’ll be their first high school experience. It’ll be an eye-opener.”

Kamiah’s season began with a neutral site game against Grace and the Kubs’ first home game is Friday night Aug. 31, against Lewis County. Their league slate opens Sept. 7 at Potlatch.

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