Head coach: Cameron Andersen, 7th year
2015 record: 9-3, 3-0 in Sawtooth Central (lost 3A title game to Emmett, 54-22)
Returning starters: 16
Gooding rode the arms and legs of all-state quarterback Wyatt Williams to the program's first state championship game appearance in 30 years and first as a 3A program in 2015. The Senators averaged a staggering 42 points per game last season, including 65 points per game against SCIC opponents.
Senior Tyler Visser takes over under center for Gooding, who will run a slightly different offense this year with a more conventional quarterback in the fold. Visser was an all-state selection as a cornerback last year but will be under center exclusively in 2016.
Though Williams set every conceivable record for Gooding in his storied career, Anderson has plenty of faith in his new signal caller.
“He’s kind of got that laidback, kind of really relaxed. But he is super competitive when the lights come on," Andersen said. “He is intense and wants the ball in his hands. And that’s the kind of guy you want back there.”
Visser will have plenty of help, as five players who started on the offensive line last year return, as does all-state receiver Bryson Comstock and 1,400 yard rusher Michael Needham.
The new offense is, by most accounts, actually simpler. The team began learning it late last school year and has worked on its intricacies in the offseason.
"We adopted a whole new system," Visser said. “We have a new system that allows me to just make good reads and deliver it from the pocket more."
Head coach: Rich Bishop, 4th year
2015 record: 5-4, 2-1 in Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference (lost to Homedale, 42-18, in 3A playoffs
Returning starters: 18
The Bulldogs return a staggering 18 starters from a 2015 squad that fell in the first round of the 3A state tournament to eventual semifinalist Homedale. Back under center is third-year starting quarterback Zach Wright to lead an offense that lost just a single lineman in the offseason.
"Most of us have been playing since our sophomore years at the higher levels," Wright said. "And so, our senior year, we’re just looking forward to it because we have so much experience.”
Rich Bishop will take over as the team's defensive coordinator, as Dominik Unger left in the offseason to become Kimberly's principal. Bishop expects the defense to remain mostly the same in terms of X's and O's. Where he wants to see progress is in the attitude department.
Bishop believes that in the games his team lost in 2015, a lack of competitiveness was a factor. The key this offseason on both sides of the ball has been to light a fire under his players.
By doing so, Bishop hopes the Bulldogs get to a point where they feel they can compete against anyone.
“That’s something we’ve been working on this summer. Competing better in those games that are going to be more of a challenge," Bishop said. “Not just winning the games you’re expected to win, but compete and winning games that are either a push or maybe (beating) a team that’s a little bit of a heavier favorite.”