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Rocky Mountain Fends Off Trojans for Third 5A State Title
The Grizzlies overcame early offensive struggles, holding the normally prolific Rigby offense to 14 points
Published: 11/21/2020 10:45:08 PM


Two out of three ‘aint bad. 

In a bruising championship matchup riddled with turnovers and miscues, the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies found themselves on the winning side of Saturday’s title game against Rigby at Madison High School, defeating the Trojans 17-14. 

The game came as a revenge opportunity for Rocky Mountain, which was booted from last year’s state playoffs by Rigby, ending the Grizzlies’ undefeated 2019 season. But despite all the talk of getting even heading into Championship Saturday, Rocky Mountain Head Coach Chris Culig said he and his staff didn’t see it that way. 

Instead of getting back at the Trojans, Culig said he wanted his team to avenge their poor performance against Rigby a year ago. 

“I was really disappointed with how we played last year,” Culig said. “You never want to finish the season not feeling like you played well in your final game. You want to finish the year playing your best football.”

And while Rocky’s final game of the 2020 season might not have been its best performance, it was certainly good enough to knock off the defending 5A state champions. 

After trading turnovers on each of their opening possessions, scoring finally broke loose between the two teams in the second quarter. Running back Max Leham punched it in from a yard out to give the Grizzlies the early lead, which Caden Zierenberg padded with a 27-yard field goal. 

The Trojans would respond, but not with the personnel you would expect. Quarterback Tiger Adolpho, who had led Rigby to an undefeated record on the year, hit the bench after an early interception and two lost fumbles. In his place, Taylor Freeman started under center for the second half, finding moderate success on 176 yards and two touchdowns. 

“We’ve been harping on them that it’s all about protecting the ball and forcing turnovers,” Culig said. “We hadn’t started fast on defense in the last several weeks, fortunately we were able to do it and change the whole momentum of the game.”

Freeman would find Con Dansie for a three-yard touchdown, cutting Rocky Mountain’s deficit to three points. But the Grizzlies weren’t deterred, answering right back on a Lehman 13-yard score. 

Freeman would again score, again hitting Dansie, but with just 3:40 left on the clock, the late touchdown would come too late for a possible comeback. 

Rocky Mountain managed the win despite abandoning the gameplan that propelled them into the state championship. Against Coeur d’Alene in last week’s semifinals, Rocky Mountain Kobe Warr found receiver Jordan Erickson for a handful of deep passes resulting in touchdowns. The Rigby defense shut down that matchup, limiting Erickson to just two catches for 17 yards. Instead, Erickson took his talents to the ground, rushing 11 times for 81 yards, complementing Lehman’s 61 yards on 12 carries. 

With Erickson out of the game plan, Warr instead leaned on Max Nead. Warr finished with 150 yards, throwing to Nead for 52 yards. 

“We’ve had a really special senior class,” Culig said. “We had a positive team vibe all year, and thought we had a pretty good shot all year.”

Rocky Mountain's record over three years now stands at 31-1, with the one loss coming in last year's playoffs against Rigby. The Grizzlies, now the owner of three 5A state championships, have won the most titles since their first in 2015. 



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