Head Coach: Rick Astle, 1st year
2016 Record: 9-1 (4-0 Sawtooth West Conference)
Playoffs: Lost to Butte County 28-26 in second round of 1A-DII playoffs
Changes are abound for the Dietrich Blue Devils.
First-year head coach Rick Astle takes over a program that lost all-state running back Garrett Astle and all-state quarterback Jake Smith from last year’s team that was ranked No. 1 in 1A-DII for much of the year before being upset in the final minute of a second-round playoff matchup with Butte County.
“We haven’t talked much about it. In some way, we’re rebuilding again. We’re trying to get the kids to believe in themselves and step up,” said Astle. “They have big shoes to fill, but they also have the potential to do it.”
While Dietrich’s high-powered offense has often been its calling card in recent years, this year’s team will rely on a strong defense that includes sophomore Ragyn Robertson and junior Audie Zimmers. Astle was the team’s defensive coordinator before taking over for Mike Torgerson this offseason.
Senior receiver Kade Shaw, who put up big numbers in the playoffs while Astle was hampered by a bruised thigh, also returns, as do linemen Shane VanTassell and Lon Page. Though numbers are a challenge—Astle said he anticipates having 16 players on the roster—the first-year head coach also seems confident that this year’s squad can avoid a one-year drop off and continue to compete with the top teams in the Sawtooth West Conference.
“We’ve started to turn the page at Dietrich with how we want to do things,” said Astle. “It’s all about believing in their abilities and executing what we want to do, and we will be fine.”