Mackay High School
Conference: Independent/JV Schedule
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Jack McKelvey
Years as Head Coach: 24th Season
Record Last Year: 3-5
State Titles: 1987, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005
Drew Winters, WR, Junior
Nathan Hampton, OL, Sophomore
“Key Players” lost from last year:
Wes Roscoe, RB
Jacob Green, QB
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
If you knew anything about the Mackay Miners football program in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it was that Mackay was a dominating force on the gridiron – a true 1A powerhouse.
The Miners are proud owners of eight state football titles, coming both in 11-man and 8-man football. At one point, Mackay had won six straight state titles from 1996-2001.
The man at the helm for each of them was Jack McKelvey.
Known as one of the best coaches in Idaho football, McKelvey helped lead his team to multiple 10-win seasons. He’s forgotten more about football than most people will ever be able to learn about the sport. He has led the school to more playoff appearances than the amount of years his current players have been alive.
It’s a rich football tradition in Mackay – one that will take a huge and sobering turn this season.
As it is with some smaller 1A schools in Idaho, low enrollment is causing issues with athletic programs across all sports. Since 8-man football is played at the 1A level, having small numbers to draw from and struggling to piece together a team is definitely cause for alarm.
It’s not the schools’, coaches’, or players’ fault by any means. It’s just a continuing trend of small communities getting smaller as people move towards the more urban areas. That trend seems to be taking its toll on Mackay… and it could continue.
The Miners will only play a junior varsity schedule of games this season as a result of low enrollment, which stood at 41 students on April 27, 2015 according to the Idaho State Department of Education. To give some context to their struggles in fielding a team, McKelvey offered up an eye-opening statement.
“We have junior Drew Winters returning at wide receiver and sophomore Nathan Hampton at offensive line… and that’s it,” he said, “These two are the only returning players.”
The rest of the team will be comprised of freshman this year, allowing Mackay the decision to play a JV schedule. While it may be tough for members of the community and football purists to swallow, McKelvey emphasized that the main goal is still there – to develop young people.
“I coach high school football to watch the players grow and develop in this sport and become not only better football players, but better young men in the process,” he said.
It will be a real base-building experience for the Miners this season. There will be lots of bumps and stumbling blocks along the way. But all of it is necessary for a chance at future success.
“Our emphasis will be heavy in fundamentals and trying to teach the game of football the correct way to these young players,” said McKelvey.
Obviously, with a setup like Mackay has numbers-wise, staying healthy is key to being able to compete. But McKelvey said it’s not a ‘X-Factor’ to the season. It’s more about development.
The Miners will have six opportunities to test their skills and improvement this season. They open up on the road against rival school Butte County on September 3rd. That’s followed by a four-game homestand against Challis, North Gem, Clark County, and Carey, with the final game of the year being played at Rockland on Oct. 16. Oddly enough, there will be no senior night this year – because there are no seniors.
Indeed, change can be difficult. But, if you can have a long-term vision of a program as McKelvey does, change is necessary – for the programs’ survival and potential future success.