The countdown to the 2019 high school football season has already begun with schools across Idaho opening fall camp.
With the first kickoffs drawing closer, we zoomed in on the 5A Southern Idaho Conference to examine the top players sure to make their impact felt week in and week out.
Here are the top candidates:
AUSTIN BOLT, WR/LB, BORAH
The 6-4, 200-pound senior enters the fall as Idaho’s most sought-after recruit. He has five Division I scholarship offers: Utah State, Montana, Montana State, Idaho and Idaho State.
A first-team All-Idaho selection in both football and basketball, he did a little bit of everything for the Lions last season. He creates game-changing plays on both sides of the ball, racking up 1,589 total yards and 16 TDs. He’ll even step under center as a Wildcat quarterback, a role he will see more time in this fall.
“He’s one of the greatest competitors I have ever watched play high school sports,” Rocky Mountain coach Chris Culig said. “His will to win is unparalleled.”
BEN FORD, QB, EAGLE
Ford had never played quarterback outside of a few snaps as a Wildcat QB as a freshman. But he broke out as a sophomore under center last season, rushing for 1,386 yards and 17 touchdowns, including a 319-yard performance to clinch a playoff berth.
One opposing coach called the junior the fastest player in the state. And he enters the fall with offers from Idaho State football and Washington baseball.
“He did a great job running the show for Eagle last year,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “He’s very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He has breakaway speed.”
JONAH BLACKHAM, WR, CAPITAL
The reigning second-team All-Idaho selection stands at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, and he remains one of the state’s most dangerous weapons down the field. His combination of size, strength and hops make him uncoverable in man-to-man defenses and a nightmare in goal-line situations.
Even though defenses abandoned their base coverages just to account for him, the senior still hauled in 48 catches last year for 978 yards and nine TDs, averaging 20.4 yards per catch.
ANDY PETERS, QB, TIMBERLINE
College coaches don’t typically beat down the door of quarterbacks from 0-9 teams. But the 6-3, 200-pound senior has all the tools of a college-level pocket passer, including a rocket arm, quick decision-making and the athleticism to turn broken plays into positive ones.
Idaho State has already extended an offer to the three-star recruit entering his third season as a starter. And he has visited Boise State, Oregon State and San Jose State.
GERRIT TAMMINGA, OL, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
As the only full-time starter back on the Grizzlies’ offensive line, Rocky Mountain will rely on the three-year starting tackle to lead the way. A reigning first-team All-Idaho lineman, Tamminga (6-3, 280) already owns three Division I offers (Idaho, Idaho State and San Diego) and was named the offensive line MVP at Boise State’s summer camp.
“(He) is a player that can do some special things,” Timberline coach Ian Smart said. “... He is a big, athletic kid who moves really well. I think he will end up doing some big things this season.”
K.J. LYNCH, WR/DB, MOUNTAIN VIEW
The 6-2, 175-pound senior first forced his way into the lineup as a sophomore wide receiver. The Mavericks then unleashed him as a safety midway through last season, and he earned so much praise that he made his way on to the All-Idaho first team despite just half a season of experience.
“He’s a complete football player on both sides of the ball,” Simis said.
COLBY JACKSON, QB, ROCKY MOUNTAIN
A state player of the year at running back and an elite defense took most of the headlines from Rocky Mountain’s undefeated state championship season. But the incoming senior quarterback proved a dynamic weapon all season, completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,940 yards, with 23 TDs and just six interceptions.
The Grizzlies are his team now, and he’s surrounded by plenty of weapons to keep Rocky Mountain a state title contender.