The Rocky Mountain High football staff pondered adjustments at halftime.
The Grizzlies entered the locker room nursing a three-point lead. But after considering a couple tweaks, coach Scott Criner tossed them all out and relied on the original game plan and his physical rushing attack.
The move paid off as the Grizzlies ran for 312 yards Thursday on their way to a 35-14 victory over Timberline at Dona Larsen Park.
“We started realizing they couldn’t keep with us,” Rocky Mountain junior running back Austin Lane said. “We kept wearing them down because our running backs are so strong, and so are our linemen. We just kept hitting the hole and hitting the hole.”
Rocky Mountain (5-1, 2-0 5A SIC Pod A) entered Thursday handing it off on 80 percent of its plays. And even with first-team All-Idaho running back Jake Roper sidelined for another week with a knee injury, the Grizzlies saw no reason to change.
Rocky Mountain ran the ball 63 times — 90 percent of its plays — at 5 yards a carry. Lane (15 carries, 88 yards, TD), quarterback Christian Blaser (14 carries, 84 yards, TD), Spencer Mitchell (17 carries, 71 yards, TD) and Damian McKenney (13 carries, 47 yards) shared the load.
“We have fast and tough running backs beside Jake,” Blaser said. “So even though Jake is out, we’ve got guys stepping up and making plays.”
Lane pointed to the offensive line as the reason why Rocky Mountain can plug and play multiple running backs. The line so dominated Timberline that Criner said Rocky Mountain ran three plays over and over again, and Blaser didn’t attempt his first pass until the 28th play.
“I think our offensive line is the best in the state,” Lane said. “I think if we put any back back there, our offensive line is going to do great for us either way.”
Criner said he knew several Wolves played both ways. And he bet his running back rotation and his offensive line would eventually wear down Timberline.
Rocky ran for 199 yards in the second half at 6.2 yards per carry.
“Power, iso, we just ran right at them,” Criner said. “Our strength is running the ball. Everybody thinks you don’t have No. 7 (Roper), so we can’t run it. But we think we’ve got a stable of running backs.”
Rocky Mountain’s defense locked down the Wolves in the second half. It held Timberline to 196 yards. Eighty of those yards came on a late drive against Rocky Mountain’s second string as Terek Zimmerman caught a 15-yard TD pass with 8 seconds left.
“Our defense is physical,” Criner said. “They play hard. They are improving each week. We just want to keep seeing those guys improve.”