At some point, Jonah Dalmas will probably have to choose between soccer and football if he wants to play at the next level.
Regardless of which sport he picks, the Rocky Mountain High junior is likely to do well.
Dalmas ranks third in scoring in 5A Southern Idaho Conference soccer, and he’s also made the longest field goal this season among 5A SIC kickers in football at 51 yards.
Playing both sports leaves Dalmas with very little free time between school, practices, games and homework, but he doesn’t mind.
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“He has endless energy,” Rocky Mountain football coach Scott Criner said. “That endless energy helps him go. He rolled an ankle at practice about two weeks ago out at soccer, so we held him out for a day.
“He was back the next day. He’s kind of freaky that way. He has the ability to take a lot of punishment, and he just keeps going.”
As a starting left wing in soccer, Dalmas has 13 goals and 12 assists, helping the Grizzlies secure the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the 5A District Three Tournament, which starts Friday.
The top four teams advance to state, which is Oct. 22-24 at Eagle, Meridian and Rocky Mountain high schools.
Rocky Mountain has only made it to state once, going two-and-out in 2012.
“Knowing that our soccer team hasn’t been very good the past couple of years, we call ourselves the underdogs,” Dalmas said. “Most of our team is juniors and some sophomores.”
But this year’s team has proven it can contend with the league’s best. The Grizzlies beat Centennial 2-1 on Sept. 28, and the Patriots are the only team with a victory over first-place Timberline.
The Grizzlies feature two of the conference’s most prolific scorers in Dalmas and Hamish Lamberton. Lamberton, a junior attacking midfielder, leads the league with 16 goals and 10 assists, just ahead of Timberline’s Cole Fuller (18 goals, four assists).
In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Capital, Dalmas and Lamberton each scored two goals.
“Soccer-wise, (Dalmas) is so quick, and because he is assertive and aggressive, which mainly has to do with his confidence level, he is extremely dangerous going forward,” Rocky Mountain soccer coach Skyler Bell said. “He puts defenders on their heels so that they are back-pedaling, and as soon as you get your hips misaligned or you get off-balance, you are looking at the back of his head as he’s going to goal.”
While Dalmas hasn’t had to play a soccer and football game in the same day this season, it could happen in a few weeks should the soccer team make the state semifinals Oct. 23, which is the same day as the football team’s regular-season finale.
Neither of his coaches suspect it will be a problem.
“If any two-sport athlete has to miss (a game) or jump out of a practice early to go to a walk-through on a Friday before a game, we can function. We can move on,” Bell said. “When coaches get too caught up in, ‘It’s my program,’ and ‘It’s my team,’ and things like that, they forget that you’re only a junior in high school once, and those opportunities to go and play two sports and be the man at any given moment on two different teams, that’s special and something that coaches should try to give their players, not take away.”
Dalmas has played soccer since he was little, but didn’t try kicking a football until the eighth grade. He kicked for Rocky Mountain’s freshmen team in 2013 and moved into a starting role on varsity last fall.
“He’s grown into a guy who has major skills,” Criner said. “He has the ability to kick and punt at the next level. And he works really hard at it, and what you see at games, that’s after he’s run around playing soccer.
“Me as a football coach, would I love him to just be a football guy? You bet, but I also know he’s really good for our soccer program.”
Through six games, Dalmas has made 6-of-8 field goals, making the school-record 51-yarder against Eagle on Sept. 18. He’s also 17-of-18 on PATs with his only miss coming on a block. He averages 43.6 yards per punt.
Dalmas is leaning toward pursuing a college scholarship as a kicker, but says he can’t imagine giving up soccer.
“Just because I have been playing soccer since I was a little kid, it’s always been my favorite. It’s always been my first priority,” he said. “But I don’t know what to expect that’s coming for me in college. It would be a hard decision, because I have been playing soccer my whole life. It will be hard to give it up.”