The first high school football games of the 2017 season are still 77 days away.
Rocky Mountain received the website’s top billing in Idaho, but Grizzlies head coach Scott Criner wasn’t impressed.
“I feel no different than if I hadn’t heard it. All it is is speculation,” Criner said. “I assume that people would look at us in a favorable way just because we have a lot of returning skill players.”
Rocky Mountain, which won a 5A state title in 2015, finished 9-3 last season, losing 27-13 to Capital in the state semifinals.
The Grizzlies return eight starters on defense and six on offense, including a pair of Division I recruits in running back Carter Kuehl and left tackle Keeghan Freeborn. Both players were first-team All-Idaho selections in 2016.
Kuehl led the 5A classification last season with 1,987 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 185-pounder won state titles in the 100- and 200-meters this spring. He has offers from Air Force and Idaho, Criner said.
Freeborn will lead an offensive line that lost four starters from last season. The 6-2, 305-pounder helped Rocky average 342 rushing yards per game and has offers from Air Force, Weber State, Idaho and Montana State.
There were two teams that finished ahead of the Grizzlies in 2016 — state champion Mountain View (11-2) and runner-up Capital (10-2). Eagle (10-1) also won the 5A SIC Pod B title over Rocky Mountain last season, but fell to Mountain View in the state semifinals.
All three teams are consistent playoff contenders and will no doubt have something to prove after Rocky Mountain received the preseason nod at No. 1.