Head Coach: Chris Culig
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 27 Years
Record Last Year: 12-0
State Titles: 2015 and 2018
Scott Criner, Offensive Coordinator
Colin Domene, OL
Mark Criner, Assistant
Tim Souza, WR
Tim Stanley, Co-DC/LB
Jake Pele, DL
Glenn Humphries, Director of Operations
Lamont Oliver, RB
Kaleo Nawahine, DB
Tiloi Nawahine, DB, 12
Braden Cureton, DB, 12
Colby Jackson, QB, 12
Gerrit Tamminga, OL, 12
Kaden Birch, WR, 12
Henry Wolthius, DT, 12
Zach Black, DE, 11
Jarell Lucas, DE, 11
Jacob Picione, DE, 12
Ryan Douglas, LB, 12
Landon Albert, LB, 11
Brayden Rundell, DB, 11
Max Nead, WR, 11
Jordan Erickson, RB, 11
Noah Craft, WR, 12
Maguire Young, DB, 12
Devon Long, OL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Gerrit Tamminga, First Team All-League and All-State
Jarell Lucas, First Team All-league and First Team All-State
Henry Wolthius, First Team All-League
Tiloi Nawahine, Second Team All-League
Key Players lost from last year:
Brayden Hamilton, WR/TE
Garrett Beck, LB
Nick Romano, RB
Kaimana Nawahine, DB
Joe Strickland, LB
Conner Croft, WR
Isaiah Jacobsen, DL
Anthony Garza, OL
Colton Potts, OL
Payton Lamm, WR
Anthony Jacobsen, RB
Photo By: Willy Harris - #44 Ryan Douglas
Incoming impact players:
Devon Fox, RB/ 12 (Meridian Transfer)
Daniel Juarez, WR, 10
Xander Nawahine, DB, 11
Trevor VanGerpen, DB, 11
Eli Almanza, WR, 11
Ty Tanner, LB, 11
Kobe Warr, QB, 11
Landyn Young, DL, 10
Written By: Sven Alskog
There are not many things more difficult than repeating as a state champion. For Rocky Mountain, the return of eight starters on defense, the starting quarterback, a top receiving threat and a dominant offensive lineman makes the Grizzlies a real threat to be the first repeat champion at the 5A ranks since Coeur d’Alene in 2010 and 2011.
“There has been no drop off in the desire to get better since winning the state championship. No complacency,” said head coach Chris Culig. “The younger players on our team a year ago have worked really hard to step in and show what they can do. I am excited to see them show what they can do.”
While plenty of talent does return, figuring out how to fill the voids vacated by the departures of 5A Player of the Year Nick Romano on offense and the trio of Garrett Beck, Joe Strickland and Kaimana Nawahine on defense will be the biggest challenge.
Where the strength of the team should be is on the defensive line, where Zach Black, Jarell Lucas, Jacob Piscione and Henry Wolthius were all terrors a year ago and return to give the Grizzlies one of the best defensive lines in the state.
For the unit to be as dominant as it was last season, that front will have to be dominant.
“Our defensive line needs to play at a high level while our younger players get settled. Football is about taking the ball away or protecting the ball. Whomever does that best usually wins. We are a multiple defense that prefers to attack the offense,” added Culig.
One of the players on defense who capitalized consistently on opponent mistakes was Brayden Rundell, who jumped on to the scene as a sophomore and will team with Tiloi Nawahine, Braden Cureton and Maguire Young to form a strong defensive backfield. In combination with the tough defensive line and the return of Ryan Douglas at linebacker, the defense should again be a strength.
On offense, Rocky Mountain has huge shoes to fill now that Romano is gone. It will take multiple people to mitigate the loss.
“Devon Fox and Jordan Erickson need to play and perform to their abilities and we will be explosive in the run game. Our offensive line, albeit athletic, needs to gel and find some tenacity. Our wide receiver core led by Kaden Birch can be as good as we have ever had. Our style will be similar to every year. We will utilize the tools we have to the best of our ability. We should be strong in both the run game and pass game,” said Culig.
In addition to Birch, starting quarterback Colby Jackson will also have Daniel Juarez, Eli Almanza, Max Nead and Noah Kraft at his disposal to throw to from the receiver position.
First Team All-State offensive lineman Gerrit Tamminga will anchor the offensive line as one of the best at his position in Idaho. With Tamminga the only offensive line starter to return, his veteran leadership will be pivotal to the success of the front. Devon Young is another senior lineman to watch for this year.
Culig added that Jackson has established himself as a vocal leader this offseason as well, something which should help get Scott Criner’s offense going early on.
Despite returning more starters on defense, those that have departed will be difficult to replace.
“Losing Garrett Beck and Joe Strickland at linebacker along with Kaimana Nawahine at safety is equal to trying to replace 5A Player of the Year Nick Romano on offense. We will be extremely fast at all positions - faster than a year ago - however we won’t be as long at linebacker and lack a bit of experience at safety,” said Culig. “We expect Jacob Loveland, Ty Tanner, Landon Albert, Maguire Young, Trevor VanGerpen and Xander Nawahine to step in and fill those holes.”
The defending champions begin the season on Thursday, August 29 with a meeting at Dona Larsen Park against the Borah Lions.