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2021 Football Preview: Top 10 Defensive Linemen
Who will dominate on the D-Line this season?
Published: 7/12/2021 10:07:06 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


As we head towards a new football season in the fall of 2021, is getting fans ready by unveiling the Top 10 players at each position.  These lists feature players from all corners of the state, and from all six classification levels.  Each week, we'll publish a new list of Top 10 players.  Here's the schedule:

July 5 (Offensive Linemen)

July 12 (Defensive Linemen)

July 19 (Running Backs)

July 26 (Linebackers)

August 2 (Wide Receivers/Tight Ends)

August 9 (Defensive Backs)

August 16 (Quarterbacks)

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Running Backs to watch out for in 2021.  These selections have been made by the editorial staff at, and are listed in alphabetical order by school.  We considered a wide range of factors when making this list, including individual stats, team success, All-State or All-Conference accolades, and college football recruiting buzz.

Ethan Smith, Butte County (Sr.)

Smith used his slender 5-10, 150 lb. frame to get past bigger offensive linemen as a junior, earning 1st Team All-State and 1st Team All-Conference honors.  He notched 15 tackles in the Pirates' 26-20 district championship win over Grace.

Cameren Cope, Coeur d'Alene (Sr.)

With a 6-5, 220 lb. frame to work with, Cope is drawing attention from college coaches at both defensive end and tight end.  A year ago, Cope led all Class 5A pass rushers with 12.5 sacks.  He also collected 52 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles.

Athan Blonquist, Firth (Sr.)

The Cougars' 6-1, 210 lb. defensive end put up video game numbers last year, racking up 33 sacks, 97 tackles, 5 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.  In Firth's 7-6 semifinal win over North Fremont last year, Blonquist finished with 17 total tackles.

Dakota Sage, Gooding (Sr.)

At 6-0 and 280 lbs., Sage anchors the interior portion of the Senators' defensive line.  His stats from a year ago (35 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles) may appear to be modest, but his abilities freed up his teammates for more opportunities.

Keegan Smith, Horseshoe Bend (Sr.)

The 6-2, 215 lb. edge rusher towered over opponents in 2020.  Smith finished with 102 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.  When watching the film from a year ago, Smith simply overpowered opponents, and is looking to build upon that explosiveness as a senior.

Luke Trogden, Mullan (Sr.)

The 6-0, 205 lb. senior racked up 71 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and 4 forced fumbles, while also moonlighting as a running back on the Tigers' co-op squad with St. Regis, Montana.  Mullan fans are excited about their team's potential in 2021, as Trogden and All-Conference linebacker Adam Ball return to fortify the defense.

Julian Gallegos, Notus (Sr.)

Gallegos earned 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-State honors a year ago, and along with Kellen Parks (who made our Top 10 Offensive Linemen list), Notus has a pair of bookends on the offensive and defensive lines to build around in 2021.

Talin Togiai, Rigby (Sr.)

The 6-6, 290 lb. senior projects as an offensive tackle in college, but his abilities as the Trojans' nose tackle in their 3-4 defense a year ago were impressive.  He commanded double-teams consistently, which allowed Rigby's loaded linebacking corps to fill the stat sheet with tackles and sacks.

Mason Jacobsen, Rocky Mountain (Sr.)

After spending his freshman and sophomore seasons in Belgrade, Montana, Jacobsen moved to Meridian last year and played on the defensive line for Class 5A state champion Rocky Mountain.  At 6-3 and 230 lbs., Jacobsen's frame and pass rushing abilities have caught the attention of college coaches.

Boyd Sorensen, Sugar-Salem (Sr.)

The 1st Team All-State selection notched 51 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks a year ago.  Sorensen stands 6-4 and 225 lbs., and the Diggers will be counting on him to solidify what should be another dominant defensive unit at Sugar-Salem in 2021.


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