Highlighting the area football scene’s top game to watch tonight.

Before the season began, first-year Genesee coach Alex Schnebly put a mark on the calendar beside Clearwater Valley, highlighting tonight’s home Whitepine League Division I matchup as an “impact game.”

“I knew that if we can make it through it, that’d put us in an excellent position for the postseason,” he said.

It’ll most likely be the toughest test yet for the Bulldogs (3-0), darkhorse State contenders with a new coach and a fresh-faced set of talents from Colton. Genesee, after inching out a last-minute win against Timberline in Week 1, hit its stride the past two weeks, upstaging an explosive Deary offense, then surging in the second half against Potlatch to collect its first WPL Division I victory since 2018.

CV of Kooskia overwhelmed D-II foe Salmon River, then hit a Prairie wall last week. But Schnebly knows the Rams also are aiming for one of the top few spots in the WPL standings. This could be billed as a statement game for either side and their rookie coaches.

“They’re a good young team, and after two weeks, we’ve kinda seen both sides of the spectrum,” said Rams coach Allen Hutchens, whose team moved inside this week for practices because of poor air quality. “We’re ready to get after it. The kids have been battling hard, they’ve had a good week of practice. They’ve been tackling well, hitting the inside game, passing routes.”

CV has shifted standout inside linebacker Dylan Pickering outside to combat the dual-threat tendencies of Colton-to-Genesee quarterback Angus Jordan, who’s fast becoming a WPL star. Jordan is approaching 1,000 total yards on the season, with 14 scores to boot.

“It’s just been a change of pace. A lot of the Whitepine League is run-heavy, so throwing the ball like we are has been a key to our success,” Schnebly said, referencing a Bulldog quarterback who can create offense outside the pocket, heave 40-yarders or cut into lanes to set up big-yardage snaps.

“... From what we’ve seen on (the Rams’) tape, their defense is what they take pride in, and they definitely deserve to.”

It should make for an intriguing clash between a dynamic Genesee offense and a stacked front seven for CV, which will need a secondary led by Ridge Shown to keep step with Bulldog pass-catchers for long stretches of time.

“We gotta stay home and be disciplined (up front), and our DBs, hanging with their receivers while (Jordan is) scrambling around will be key,” Hutchens said.

Offensively, the Rams have spread touches between four players. In the past two weeks, Genesee has met opponents exhibiting workhorse ballcarriers, Deary quarterback Brayden Stapleton and Potlatch running back Tyler Howard.

“(CV has) more weapons at their disposal, and that’s something we’ve worked on,” said Schnebly, crediting linebackers Wyatt Jordan and Jack Johnson with holding the glue together. “Our defense is playing extremely tough and improving each game.”

Colton Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.

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