High School Football

Undefeated, SIC champs and still not satisfied. Rocky Mountain football wants it all.

Rocky Mountain linebacker Joe Strickland intercepts a Skyview pass in first half Friday as the Grizzlies clinched the 5A SIC title with a 42-23 win over the Hawks.
Rocky Mountain linebacker Joe Strickland intercepts a Skyview pass in first half Friday as the Grizzlies clinched the 5A SIC title with a 42-23 win over the Hawks. doswald@idahostatesman.com

The Rocky Mountain High football team already owns the state’s No. 1 ranking. It wrapped up a league title Friday night with a 42-23 homecoming win over Skyview. And it has clinched a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage until the state finals.

But don’t expect the unbeaten Grizzlies to take their foot off the gas next week or anytime soon.

“We don’t stop there,” senior defensive back Kaimana Nawahine said. “Let’s see what else we can get. We’ve got 12 hours to celebrate, now it’s on to the next one after that.”

Up next is Thursday’s regular-season finale against slumping Borah (5-3), which upset Rocky Mountain 7-6 last year. The Grizzlies haven’t forgotten that year-old loss at Dona Larsen Park. And while other teams may shy away from the rankings, talk of undefeated seasons and hype, Rocky Mountain has embraced them all.

“We love the target on the back,” senior running back Nick Romano said. “It makes us play to our best potential, and it gives us the opportunity to get better.”

Romano, the leading 5A rusher in the state, carried the Grizzlies again Friday night. He ran for 209 yards and four touchdowns, including 155 yards and three TDs in the first half as Rocky Mountain built a 28-0 lead.

Skyview (4-4) scored 23 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, more points than any team has put up on Rocky Mountain’s vaunted defense all season. The Hawks cut the lead to five points when Tyler Crowe (165 yards, two TDs) scored from 6 yards out with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third.

But Rocky Mountain’s Duanavan Jardine recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Romano went back to work. He ripped off a 32-yard run on the first play of the drive before finishing it off with a 2-yard score.

“He’s incredible,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said. “He’s fast and he’s powerful and he’s a workhorse. He just wants the ball as much as we can give it to him. He finds a way.”

Finally allowed to catch its breath, Rocky Mountain’s defense then forced back-to-back three-and-out drives from Skyview, and Colby Jackson hit Conner Croft for a 40-yard TD pass to put the game away.

Rocky Mountain won 5A SIC pod titles in 2014 and 2015, but the full league title is the Grizzlies’ first since 2010.

Culig hesitated to commit to using all of his top players in the final week with nothing but pride on the line. But with a first-round bye in the postseason, he said he didn’t want his team to take too much time off.

“We want to keep a rhythm, and they want to play,” Culig said. “I think 9-0 is something that is important to them, and we’re playing at a high level.”

The loss forces Skyview to head into the final week of the season still battling for its playoff life. The Hawks host Meridian (3-5) next Friday. A win guarantees them the first 5A playoff berth in program history.

  Comments