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Timberlake will be favored again in IML

In his first nine seasons as head football coach at Timberlake, coach Roy Albertson’s teams have made the State 3A playoffs each year.

That isn’t about to change this fall. In fact, the Tigers are heavily favored to captured a seventh straight Intermountain League championship.

Whether Timberlake can win a first-round playoff game for the first time since 2007 and ultimately advance to a state title game remains to be seen.

Albertson’s Tigers have done all the right things to establish themselves as the dominant IML program. But they’ve fallen well short in the playoffs against Snake River Valley League teams.

“We have really struggled the last three years in the playoffs, especially early in games,” Albertson said. “It’s almost like we forget how to play a hard game.”

Because the league has fallen short of preparing it for state playoffs in recent years, Timberlake has beefed up its nonleague schedule. This year the Tigers will play defending 2A state champ Grangeville, perennial Washington playoff qualifier Colville, 2011 4A playoff qualifier Lakeland and 4A Sandpoint.

“We’re hoping it will pay dividends in November,” Albertson said.

Timberlake returns eight starters. The Tigers have several holes to fill, and they have just nine seniors. Most of the holes must be filled by juniors.

The Tigers return five offensive linemen, led by senior Jereme Nereaux, a first team all-league pick last year. The line will be counted on to open holes for a deep backfield. Timberlake figures seven to eight ball carries could touch the ball each game.

The most rebuilding comes on defense where Timberlake will start six juniors and a sophomore.

“Offensively, we’re playing pretty well right now because of the line,” Albertson said. “It’s huge to have those linemen back. Defensively, we’re a work in progress. We’re not as good as we were a year ago. We need to get some games under our belt as a unit.”