The 5A Southern Idaho Conference has stood as a two-tiered high school football league for years.
There’s Capital, Eagle, Mountain View and Rocky Mountain, the Big Four of the league. Then there’s everyone else.
That reality held true until last week, when Borah upset the league’s power dynamics by knocking off Rocky Mountain and its high-flying offense with a 7-6 victory at Dona Larsen Park.
“It was a culture-changing game,” Borah coach Jason Burton said. “They’ve been the big dogs. To finally get up and knock one of those off, it was huge for everyone around the program.”
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The upset sent shockwaves through the SIC. Capital, Eagle, Mountain View and Rocky Mountain have run roughshod over the 5A SIC for years, dividing league and pod titles amongst themselves and leaving the rest of the league to fight over their scraps.
▪ Eagle owns a 29-game winning streak against 5A SIC teams not named Capital, Mountain View or Rocky Mountain.
▪ Mountain View has won 27 straight against 5A SIC teams outside the Big Four.
▪ Capital has won 12 in a row and 36 of it past 37 games against the rest of the league.
▪ And entering last week, Rocky Mountain had won 24 in a row against non-Big Four teams.
The Lions are the last team to tame all four of the league’s powerhouses. Borah shocked Capital in 2015, and it beat Mountain View, Eagle and Rocky Mountain in 2012 on its way to a 7-3 season.
But don’t count on a Big Five just yet. Centennial pushed Mountain View to the brink a month ago. And Timberline has challenged Capital, Rocky Mountain and Eagle in three consecutive weeks.
All eventually ended in losses. But all those teams demonstrated proof of the resurgence of the SIC’s depth.
“Now the conversation is open,” Timberline coach Ian Smart said. “These teams are now beatable. They’re still good teams, and I don’t want to say what they’ve done isn’t earned. But at the same time, teams are not just showing up to not get mercy-ruled anymore. We’re trying to win games.”
Three weeks remain in the regular season, so no one has clinched a playoff berth yet. No one is eliminated either. A lot still can happen.
But one thing is for sure: The 5A SIC race is no longer a foregone conclusion.
“Everyone is going: ‘Oh my gosh. There are chances here,’ ” Burton said.
Rocky Mountain at Kuna, 7 p.m. Thursday
If a last-second defeat to Mountain View and a near upset to Timberline didn’t grab the Grizzlies’ attention, a 7-6 loss to Borah better have.
Six points is the fewest Rocky Mountain has scored since a state semifinal loss to Highland in 2013. Borah deserves all the credit in the world for holding down a team scoring a league-high 38.6 points per game entering the game. But the Grizzlies left plenty of points on the field after missing a two-point conversion, having a Carter Kuehl touchdown run wiped out by a holding call and mismanaging the clock at the end of the first half to run out of time at the Borah 1-yard line.
“We had poorly timed mistakes and couldn’t find ways to close out drives,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said.
Now, the Grizzlies possibly will face Kuna without starting quarterback Will McMullin after he had to be helped off the field late against Borah with an ankle injury. Culig said his status for this week is up in the air.
Kuna is no pushover. Like Rocky Mountain, it enters Thursday 1-1 in the 5A SIC Pod B, making a win just as crucial for its playoff push. And the Kavemen have turned themselves into an offensive juggernaut this year behind the trio of quarterback Danny Rogers, running back Caden Cobb and wide receiver Jerome Miller.
Kuna now leads the 5A SIC at 38.3 points per game, erupting late in several games to prove no deficit is too large. But the Kavemen are also giving up a league-high 42.2 points a game, so strap in for a shootout.
“For us, we’ve got to win every game,” Culig said. “... If we don’t take care of our business, things get taken care of for us.”
Rocky Mountain 42, Kuna 33
27Straight wins for Capital over Boise. The Braves last beat Capital in 1988. The two Boise School District rivals meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Dona Larsen Park.
Borah at Timberline, 7 p.m. Friday
Borah earned everyone’s attention by toppling Rocky Mountain and breaking open the 5A SIC Pod B playoff race. Now the question is can the Lions avoid a hangover?
Borah held Rocky Mountain running back Carter Kuehl, an Air Force commit, to 33 yards on 10 carries last week. The Lions defense faces another test with Ed Osterberger, who’s coming off a 210-yard performance against Eagle.
“I told the guys, ‘You went against the best back in the league last week. Now you’ve got the next one. You’ve got to embrace the challenge,’ ” Burton said.
Timberline opened its pod schedule with tough losses to Rocky Mountain and Eagle. A third loss puts its postseason chances into serious doubt, so Burton knows Borah will get a desperate Wolves squad.
Timberline could just as well be 2-0 in the pod if not for a handful of defensive lapses.
“We’re an 80 percent team defense,” Smart said. “Eighty percent of the time, we’re really good. Then 20 percent of the time against Rocky and Eagle, we give up silly plays. That’s hard to overcome not just from a scoreboard side, but from a morale side.”
That’s not a good combination when facing one of the league’s top quarterback-wide receiver tandems in Jake Standlee and Ellis Manguson.
Borah 34, Timberline 22
Middleton at Bishop Kelly, 7 p.m. Friday
Bishop Kelly slugged out a 14-6 win last week at Emmett. But don’t expect a letdown this week with Middleton coming to town, Bishop Kelly coach Tim Brennan said.
“We’re 4-0 in conference. They’re 4-0 in conference,” Brennan said. “Our kids and their kids are smart enough to understand, win this one and they have a chance to be a conference champion.”
The Knights have won the past four 4A SIC titles and 19 straight against conference opponents. But Middleton presents a new wrinkle this season with a spread passing attack after years of running the double wing.
The Vikings bounced back from an 0-2 start to win four in a row and start dreaming of a conference title of their own. But those dreams will have to wait at least another year with a shutdown Bishop Kelly secondary led by Rex Irby and Khalil Forehand that has allowed six points the past three weeks combined.
Bishop Kelly 28, Middleton 20
Week 7 high school football picks
Each week, Michael Lycklama of the Idaho Statesman will pick the winner of every high school football game in the Treasure Valley. Computer picks are made by using the Elo rankings popularized by FiveThirtyEight.com. The odds Elo gives each team of winning is also listed.
Capital at Boise (Thur.)
Meridian at Mountain View
Mtn View (83%)
Columbia at Nampa
Rocky Mountain at Kuna (Thur.)
Rocky Mtn (78%)
Centennial at Eagle (Thur.)
Borah at Timberline
Ridgevue at Vallivue (Thur.)
Emmett at Caldwell (Thur.)
Mountain Home at Skyview (Thur.)
Middleton at Bishop Kelly
Payette at Parma (Thur.)
Fruitland at Weiser
Marsing at Cole Valley Christian
Cole Valley (74%)
New Plymouth at McCall-Donnelly
New Plymouth (60%)
Nampa Christian at Melba
Horseshoe Bend at Wilder
Rimrock at Notus
Tri-Valley at Council
Garden Valley at Salmon River
Salmon River (67%)