Nate Manning, QB, Century
Manning spent the majority of 2017 backing up Cole McKinlay and Ben Ditton before making his first varsity start Week 8 against Twin Falls at Holt Arena. Manning kept the starting quarterback job the rest of the way and led the Diamondbacks to the 4A state quarterfinals.
The rocket-armed quarterback played in six games last season, totaling 189.9 yards passing per game and 15.6 yards per completion. Manning lost his top receiving weapon from last season in Coleton Adamson, but the Diamondbacks return a plethora of players who can step into the team’s No. 1 wideout role.
Rhett Peck, LB, Aberdeen
Peck made strides each week last season and will be a key piece for Aberdeen’s defense this season. The senior did not play as a sophomore, but slowly made up ground as a junior. His experiences from a season ago and a strong summer in the weight room have Peck in position to succeed after finishing last season with 31 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.
Ten Tigers finished with more tackles than Peck last season. Expect him to be near the top of Aberdeen’s total tackles in 2018.
Micah Naumu, LB, Highland
Naumu is one of three returning defensive starters for Highland. The senior showcased his potential a season ago, and he will shoulder a larger defensive role this season in the Rams’ 4-3 defensive alignment. Naumu’s ability to defend the run and the pass last season showed, including nabbing an interception in the 5A state championship game against Coeur d’Alene quarterback Colson Yankoff.
Naumu had 39 tackles, two interceptions and one bat down as a junior. Expect those numbers to increase in 2018 as Naumu has all the tools to succeed.
Wyatt Remington, RB, Shelley
Remington is already an established all-state defensive back , but the senior will show this season how versatile he is as an offensive threat. The senior will see an increased role as the Russets’ starting running back. Remington was seldom used on offense as a ball carrier in 2017, with then-senior Garrett Murdoch handling the majority of the Russets’ handoffs.
Shelley coach Jake Monahan wants to run the ball with a purpose this season, and Remington will be the main beneficiary of that.
Jacob McNabb, DL, Marsh Valley
McNabb will be a focal point on Marsh Valley’s defense this season. The senior saw plenty of reps in 2017 and will start at defensive tackle with Tanner Branson in 2018. McNabb was always near the ball last season, fin ssisted tackles, 18 solo tackles, 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss. His biggest game came against South Fremont, when he had eight tackles, five assists, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. It was the lone time in 2017 McNabb led the team in tackles.
The 3A District 5 first-teamer a season ago will hold serve in the trenches and be a tone-setter in his final prep campaign.