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2021 Football Preview: Top 10 Running Backs
These rushers are primed for big years in 2021
Published: 7/19/2021 8:59:57 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.

Seth Knothe, Bishop Kelly (Sr.)

Bishop Kelly normally has a stable of running backs that complement each other, but in 2020, Knothe was the bell cow of the Knights' offense.  He accumulated 1,359 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns and earned 1st Team All-Conference recognition.  Stopping Knothe will be the top priority for defensive coordinators in the SIC this year.

Conner Simpson, Carey (Jr.)

One of the few underclassmen to make our Top 10 lists, the 5-3, 130 lb. dynamo was tough to stop as a sophomore in 2020.  Simpson racked up 1,465 total yards and 19 touchdowns as Carey advanced all the way to the Class 1A D2 state championship game.

Gunner Giulio, Coeur d'Alene (Sr.)

Giulio has shared the Vikings backfield with Trent Elstad the past two season, but after Elstad graduated this spring, the job is now Giulio's full-time.  At 6-0 and 190 lbs., Giulio could be a running back or wide receiver in college, and his numbers from a year ago back that up: 502 yards and 4 touchdowns rushing, and 23 catches for 267 yards and 5 touchdowns receiving.  He's also a three-time state champion wrestler, and will go for the coveted fourth title in the winter.

Hayden Kincheloe, Homedale (Sr.)

The 5-10, 212 lb. senior could not be stopped a year ago.  Kincheloe piled up 1,683 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground as Homedale marched all the way to the Class 3A state championship game.  In the Trojans' semifinal win over South Fremont, Kincheloe rushed for 348 yards in a 48-28 win.

Race Widmier, Kimberly (Sr.)

Widmier was an All-State selection in 2020 after rushing for 1,110 yards and 9 touchdowns.  The 5-10, 175 lb. senior also added 115 yards and 1 touchdown receiving, as Kimberly advanced all the way to the Class 3A semifinals.  Many experts think Kimberly might have the best offense in Class 3A football this year, and Widmier is a big reason why.

Leyton Smithson, Mountain View (Sr.)

Smithson has been the Mavericks' starting running back since his sophomore season, and rushed for 732 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago.  He also contributed 25 catches for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns, further showcasing his skill set.  Smithson is bigger than the typical running back (6-2, 195 lbs.), which makes him difficult to bring down.

Jordan Lenz, North Fremont (Sr.)

After advancing to the Class 2A semifinals a year ago, North Fremont fans are expecting something similar in 2021.  And that's in large part because Lenz is returning to the Huskies' backfield.  Lenz earned All-State recognition as a junior after piling up 1.021 total yards and 16 touchdowns.

Brody Hasselstrom, Prairie (Sr.)

Hasselstrom racked up 1,697 total yards and 32 touchdowns in 2020, winning the White Pine League Player of the Year and a 1st Team All-State designation.  His return has Prairie fans hoping for big things once again in 2021.

Taylor Marcum, Timberline (Boise) (Sr.)

Marcum's junior season was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 6-0, 185 lb. senior still put up impressive numbers.  In just six games of action, Marcum rushed for 558 yards and 9 touchdowns.  This past spring, Marcum competed in track and field for the first time and finished with a 100 meter dash time of 10.82 seconds.  Marcum just officially committed to Montana State University to further his football career.

Cage Brokens, West Side (Sr.)

The West Side Wing-T offense flows through Brokens.  As a junior, he rushed for 1,068 yards and 16 touchdowns, propelling the Pirates to yet another Class 2A state championship and a 1st team All-State selection.


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