Boise State Football

Boise State vs. Portland State is ‘somewhat personal’ for former Idaho prep standout

Kenton Bartlett was in elementary school the last time he played on the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium. It was an Optimist Youth Football jamboree.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Portland State senior defensive tackle is hoping for a celebratory homecoming Saturday in a game in which he’ll technically be the enemy in his own hometown. Kickoff for Portland State (1-1) at Boise State (2-0) is 8:15 p.m. on ESPN2.

Bartlett, a 2016 Centennial High graduate, was the 2015 5A Southern Idaho Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and a 5A All-Idaho first-team selection on the defensive line. He was offered a preferred walk-on spot with Boise State, but not a scholarship.

“There’s a little chip on my shoulder,” Bartlett told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview Monday. “I don’t want to make the game personal or anything, but it’s somewhat personal.”

Instead of walking on at Boise State, Bartlett accepted a scholarship to play at Portland State. He is in his third year as a starter and was voted a team captain in 2019. With 22 career starts going into the season, Bartlett is the most experienced player on the Vikings’ defense. He has 82 career tackles, including nine for loss, and was chosen as a preseason All-Big Sky honoree.

“I’m more of a quiet person, more lead by example,” said Bartlett, who graduated with a degree in criminal justice last spring. “People kind of look up to me for that, and I just try to show my best skill and ability, and go out and compete.”

Bartlett expects to have a large cheering section Saturday at Albertsons Stadium, including family and friends making the trip to Boise from out of state. For some of them, it will be their last chance to see Bartlett play collegiately.

“It’s gone by fast, really fast,” Bartlett said. “It’s kind of bittersweet just because I’m almost done playing college football; however, I’m just gonna make the most out of it. I love football, so I’m taking every game like my last game and go from there.”

While Portland State will be just the third FCS team the Broncos have faced since 2010, the Vikings aren’t approaching the matchup with trepidation. Portland State went toe-to-toe with Arkansas in both teams’ season opener, eventually losing 20-13 on Aug. 31 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. PSU then rolled Simon Fraser 70-7 last week, with Bartlett racking up a single-game career high of 3 sacks.

“We’re excited and we’re well prepared,” Bartlett said. “... We play against big teams every year. A couple years ago, we played BYU tough, and Arkansas, we played them tough, so we’re expecting to go in to win the game, honestly. Boise State’s a tough football team, but we’re going in with the mindset to win the football game, just like any other game.”

Did you know?

Boise State co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Eric Kiesau and offensive coaching assistant Juston Wood played quarterback at Portland State. Kiesau was the Vikings’ starter in 1996, which was PSU’s first season as a member of the Big Sky. Wood was a first-team All-Big Sky selection at QB in 2001 and honorable mention in 2002. He ranks ninth in program history with 5,681 yards of total offense, including 5,653 passing yards, 37 touchdown passes, 414 completions and six 300-yard passing games.

“We are monitoring their phone calls and making sure that we know where they’re at at all times,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin joked during his Monday press conference.

Former Boise State coach Dirk Koetter (1998-2000) — the current offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons — has a son who plays for Portland State. Sophomore wide receiver Davis Koetter, a former quarterback, had single-game career highs for receptions (4), yards (107) and receiving touchdowns (2) against Simon Fraser last week.

Valerie Cleary, Portland State’s director of athletics, worked at Boise State from 2002 to 2008, spending time in academic advising and as BroncoLife coordinator.

PORTLAND STATE AT NO. 22 BOISE STATE

When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)

TV: ESPN2 (Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison)

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: Boise State 2-0, Portland State 1-1

Series: Boise State leads 6-1 (last meeting: Boise State won 21-14 on Oct. 8, 2005)

Vegas line: Boise State by 31 1/2

Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy

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