The difference between good and great on the high school level is sometimes only a fine line. Good preparation is seemingly the difference which moves an average athlete into a great one. For in preparation comes teamwork, league championships and state berths. Take the Wallace Miners, for instance.
During the last five football seasons, Coach Norm Walker's Miners have won the Inter Mountain League title four times. That spells preparation. To realize Walker's success in his seventeen years at Wallace, one almost has to have been a part of it. Football for the Miners is not a sport, but a religion or way of life.
A Miner has pride and if you are from Wallace you practice hard not because the coaches drill it into you, but because being part of a tradition requires it of you. Such is the instance of this year's 1981 Wallace Miners edition. They are 2-0 and headed for another great finish. This season's squad closely resembles its predecessors of 1977 who breezed through the Inter Mountain League schedule to win the North Idaho Championship by defeating Grangeville in Moscow's Kibbie Dome.
The Wallace Miners have a history of winning, coupled with a very rich tradition for the small mining town nestled in Idaho's Silver Valley. But about seventy miles to the west on Interstate 90 in the Spokane Valley is another team with just as an impressive track record as the Miners. That team is the East Valley Knights.
When the preseason in the Frontier League starts, sportswriters from all over Washington State alike get together to look over the facts on paper and come to the conclusion it's another year for East Valley to once again reign. So this Friday night at Sather Field, Wallace receives its biggest test of this young season as East Valley comes to town.
Knights Coach Bob Shill has enjoyed abundant success over like the Miners like no other coach. Last year for example, on a cool September night in the Spokane Valley, the Fighting Knights defeated Walker's team 42-0. In that game, the closest Wallace came to scoring was taking the ball to the East Valley 30-yard line. During that game, East Valley's cheerleaders did a push-up every time their Knights scored a touchdown. They got a harder workout than the Knights players they were cheering on. It was that bad of a rout.
East Valley used a tight defense in 1977 to survive 6-0 and beat Wallace at Sather Field. In that game, John Johnson's 24-yard gallop made the difference. Johnson is now at Montana State enjoying a successful career as a Bobcat gridder and Shill is once again favored to win the Frontier League crown. But this is the year Wallace could possibly score against and snap East Valley's hex over the Wallace Miners. The Miners are loaded.
Scott Haldi has ran for 342 yards so far this season. He has the speed and size to turn small gains into huge ones. A 1,000-yard rushing season would not be out of the question for Haldi. When Coach Walker feels Haldi is running too much, he will turn to Mark Diddens. Diddens can play any position in the backfield and poses a threat to make the big play every time he touches the football.
After Paul Stull batters defenses and the ground game is established, it's time for Scott Horning to go to the air. Horning looked sharp in his 88 yard passing performance in the Sandpoint Bulldogs game last Friday. The offensive line is just as stellar as the backfield it protects. Shane Perkins, Charley Majors and junior Bruce Ives gives the Miners a solid core in an already solid line.
A stingy pass defense headed by junior Mickey Zeller should keep opponent's scoring at a minimum and give the ball to the offense much more as well. Zeller, the teams backup quarterback, turned the Sandpoint game around with his timely interception deep in Bulldogs territory just as the second half started.
Last year, Wallace started the 1980 season 0-2 when traveling to East Valley. This year Coach Walker feels it will be an advantage going into the East Valley game 2-0, with a definite edge for league play. After last Friday's 15-3 win over A-1 Sandpoint, Wallace appears ready to play. And everybody knows Bob Shill doesn't rebuild at East Valley, he only reloads. So obviously the Knights are ready as well. Time will tell.
So the table is set, let's get to the main course for Fridays Main Event between the Wallace Miners and East Valley Knights. Let's get ready to rumble. This looks like another great year for two great teams with great traditions as they clash at Sather Field, regardless of Friday's outcome.
Hey there. I'm Rick Coe and thanks for stumbling on to my blog which contains columns I wrote while working for the now defunct Kellogg Evening News which was located in Kellogg, Idaho.