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Mackay High School

School Info
Conference: Independent/JV Schedule
Classification: 1A

Head Coach: Matt Tillotson

Years as Head Coach: 1st Season

Previous Experience: Three years as an assistant coach

State Titles: 72, 73,87, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 05

Assistant Coaches:
Brandon Nebeker

Returning Players:
Drew Winters, OL/DL, 12
Nathan Hampton, DL, 11
Kobe Marinac, DB, 11
Joey Robertson, DL, 10
Chris Ivie, TE, 10
Wes Winters, OL, 10
Riley Johnson, RB/LB, 10
Dallin Green, RB/LB, 10
Caleb Green, RB/DE, 10

Incoming impact players:
Riley Johnson, RB/LB, 10
Dallin Green, RB/LB, 10
Caleb Green, RB/DE, 10

Team Preview:
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)

Wednesday Night Lights, anyone?

That’s what it’ll be this year for the Mackay Miners football program. For the second consecutive season, the Miners will be playing a JV schedule and competing as an independent in football. Unfortunately for the fans, players, and coaches, there just aren’t enough bodies to field a varsity level squad.

However, for the first time since 1986 there will be someone without the last name of McKelvey or Rosenkrance roaming the sidelines as the man in charge.

Matt Tillotson takes over the storied, but downtrodden program in District 6. The Miners have not had a winning season since 2009 and not being able to field a varsity team hasn’t helped the morale. Mackay was once the powerhouse of 1A football, having won 10 total state titles, including six in a row from 1996-2001. While the Miners won’t be competing for a title this year, they are competing for something else: the revival of their program.

When asked what he was most excited about with regards to his team this season, Tillotson said, “We have more athletes.” Certainly understandable for a team that had 10 total players last season.

“Depth at every position will be a necessity for a successful campaign this year, but with 15 kids coming out for football this year as opposed to 10 last year, things are looking up,” he said. “We played hard and together last year, but we just ran out of gas in the second and fourth quarters of our games.”

Tillotson, who previously served as an assistant coach in Mackay before being named the head coach, emphasized a ‘back to the basics’ approach to his team this season.

“Offensively, we are going to go back to the roots of Mackay football… we want to improve in the run game,” he said. “Defensively, we are emphasizing good old school heads up form tackling. We struggled with that at times last year, but I believe fatigue played a huge role in that regard.”

Returning to the team this season is the lone senior on the squad, Drew Winters. Winters will anchor the line, while junior Nathan Hampton and sophomores Joey Robertson and West Winters will look to solidify those lines. Junior Kobe Marinac is back in the secondary, while sophomores Riley Johnson, Dallin Green, and Caleb Green will look to lock down the linebacking core. Most of these players will play both ways. Johnson and the Green’s will be the primary weapons on offense at running back. Sophomore Chris Ivie will be a big target at tight end.

“Our general focus will be to stop the run and force teams to beat us through the air. Riley Johnson, Dallin Green, and Caleb Green are all physical kids that like to hit and play downhill, which should help up be solid against the run,” Tillotson said.

Mackay will get a few extra days to prepare for their first matchup of the season. All of their matchups are against opponents JV squads and their first one doesn’t come until August 31st when the Miners travel to Dietrich. Mackay then plays at Lighthouse Christian on September 14th, followed by another away game at North Gem. The first home game of the season is September 28th when they face rival Butte County. The Miners will wrap up the season with two more games, on the road at rival Carey and at home against Watersprings.

“Our game against Carey is the must-see game of the year,” Tillotson said. “Mackay and Carey have had a rivalry for quite a few years.”

While it’s not in the cards for Mackay to play a full varsity schedule this year, Tillotson is helping his players understand that challenges present opportunities to grow.

“Our motto this year is ‘We Will Overcome’, meaning that we will overcome any obstacle no matter what the challenge,” he said. “I love helping kids reach their full potential as athletes and members of society.”

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