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Prep preview: Kuna prepared, eager to climb 5A mountain

After winning the 4A state title three years ago, the Kuna Kavemen have struggled in the 5A SIC. However, the 2022 squad is motivated to turn some heads.

KUNA, Idaho — Just three years ago, Kuna went undefeated and won the state championship at the 4A level. However, since moving up to 5A, the Kavemen have struggled to find their footing. 

Kuna head coach Jeff Schank says 2022 is the year they start to climb the mountain that is the 5A Southern Idaho Conference (SIC).

"Not a lot of people know what we have and how much we've improved from last year," senior safety Kayden Hofler said. "I think it's gonna be fun to surprise some people."

After back-to-back single-win seasons, the Kavemen may be hungrier than ever. 

"There's a different feeling for sure. Everyone's just more focused, everyone wants to work harder, everyone wants to win," senior quarterback Cole Luekenga said. "So, everyone's got drive. We're ready to play. We've been doing this all summer, so the sooner the better for us."

Schank said the Kavemen's attitude is a reflection of the Kuna community they represent.

"We have a workman's mentality. You know, we're still kind of holding onto that blue-collar mentality in this community and our football's the same," Schank said. "I've learned that we can rely on these kids. They're tough, they're gritty and we're gonna get after it."

Kuna's new mentality matches their new playbook. This offseason, the program brought on a pair of new coordinators. 

The Kavemen defense has a new system focused on generating confusion and chaos. 

"I would say we will be less stagnant," Schank said. "There's gonna be a lot of movement, pressure coming from a lot of different places."

"If we're not blitzing than we're fake blitzing. We have corners blitzing, there's just a lot of chaos going on," Hofler added. "We just want to get the offense on their toes." 

With nine players returning with all-SIC honors, the Kuna seniors have created a culture of hard work.

"We want to represent ourselves, like, Kuna has good people and hard workers and same on the field," Luekenga said. "So, we just wanna be an example of the community and the younger ones especially are watching us and want to come play football for Kuna some day."

There is still work to do, but the Kavemen are making strides. All that's left to do is see the results on the field.

"We've got a mountain to climb and we know that," Schank said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done in order for us to be a competitive 5A football program. That mountain's steep, but we're gonna lean our shoulder into the grade and we're gonna put one foot in front of the other and we're gonna climb that thing. I think this year's gonna be the year where we really make some steps forward in that."

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