The Rocky Mountain High football team waded through a long week of practice.
After an upset loss to Borah, and losses in two of their last three games, the No. 4 Grizzlies had five days to stew and hold heart-to-heart talks up and down the roster.
The penance paid off Thursday as Rocky Mountain went on the road and throttled Kuna 42-14 to retake control of its playoff destiny.
“I think we just got a fire under us tonight and showed what our team is truly capable of,” Rocky Mountain senior running back Carter Kuehl said.
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Kuehl led the way, breaking loose for season highs in rushing yards (207), rushing TDs (two) and carries (17).
The Grizzlies (5-2, 2-1 5A SIC Pod B) leaned on the reigning first-team All-Idaho pick and Air Force commit with starting quarterback Will McMullin sidelined with an ankle injury. By halftime, Kuehl had more carries, 13, than he had in any of the Grizzlies’ six previous games.
Kuna (3-4, 1-2) bottled him up in the first half, holding him to 51 yards. But the senior took over the second half, breaking off TD runs of 47 and 88 yards without a Kuna defender laying a hand on him on either run.
“Carter is a freak athlete,” senior quarterback/running back Kyle Van Tonder said. “It’s insane how fast that kid is. We can count on him. We definitely count on him in big moments and big games. He’s been here for three years, so he knows what to do and how to handle the pressure.”
His presence opened up options for Rocky Mountain’s dual option and spread offenses.
Sophomore Colby Jackson finished 7-of-12 for 101 yards and two first-half TDs, using Kuehl as a play-action decoy. And Van Tonder and Tre Page led a triple-option attack that racked up 414 yards on the ground, including a Van Tonder 29-yard TD run and a Nick Romano 43-yard TD run that saw gaping holes as Kuna flowed to Kuehl as a pitch threat.
“Everyone has got to buy into the uniqueness of our offense. We’ve kind of been struggling with that a bit,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said. “Not in a good way, but with Will being out, three other guys had to step up and we had to figure it out. I thought the team decided to play as a team.”
The victory keeps Rocky Mountain in the running for a 5A SIC Pod B championship and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it. The preseason favorite hosts Eagle (6-1, 3-0) at 7 p.m. next Friday with a chance to further bury the memories of the Borah loss.
“We’ve got to keep the fire we made tonight and take it into tomorrow morning’s practice, and Monday morning,” Kuehl said. “We’ve got to keep our energy up.”
ROCKY MTN 42, KUNA 14
RM — Zach Irwin 41 pass from Colby Jackson (Kyle Van Tonder kick), 7:28
RM — Nick Romano 43 run (Van Tonder kick), 11:50
KUN — Danny Rogers 5 run (Kade Baham kick), 5:13
RM — Bo Stevens 15 pass from Jackson (Van Tonder kick), 1:51
RM — Van Tonder 29 run (Van Tonder kick), 5:31
RM — Carter Kuehl 47 run (Van Tonder kick), 2:59
KUN — Caden Cobb 47 pass from Matthew Austin (Baham kick), 2:39
RM — Kuehl 88 run (Van Tonder kick), 2:16
RUSHING — Rocky Mountain: Kyle Van Tonder 7-41, Zach Irwin 1-7, Carter Kuehl 17-207, Tre Page 7-20, Colby Jackson 1-7, Payton Lamm 1-18, Nick Romano 5-57, Keegan Echevarria 7-45, Jerrik Lattimer 2-18, Team 1-6. Kuna: Danny Rogers 7-43, Matthew Austin 5-(-7), Tyler Brown 2-(-6), Dalton Bell 1-4, Bret Cox 4-17, Caden Cobb 31-125.
PASSING — Rocky Mountain: Jackson 7-12-0 101. Kuna: Rogers 9-14-2 91; Austin 3-6-0 68.
RECEIVING — Rocky Mountain: Irwin 1-41, Bo Stevens 1-15, Lattimer 5-45. Kuna: Jerome Miller 5-65, Tyler Brown 3-15, Cobb 2-50, Shane Miller 1-10, Hayden Buckley 1-19.