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5A/4A State Football Semi-Final Previews
A look at the state football matchups in the 5A and 4A classifications - plus Paul's Picks!
Published: 11/13/2014 2:38:11 AM
Paul Kingsbury
General Manager/Broadcaster


Highland Rams (10-0) vs Rocky Mountain Grizzlies (8-2): Saturday, Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m. (MST), Holt Arena.

Highland - 115.00 (1st of 22 teams)
Rocky Mountain - 85.50 (4th of 22 teams)

Broadcasters: Matt Harris, Kip Blanchard, and Sven Alskog.

Rocky Mountain bounced Coeur d'Alene from the playoffs last Friday night with a 43-21 win, sending the defending 5A state champions on to winter sports. The Grizzlies are now one step closer to their first state football title in their school's short history. 

Field general Christian Blaser led the attack on the ground and in the air, racking up 228 yards rushing, two TD's and also threw for one TD in the blowout victory over the Vikings. Jake Roper pitched in another 165 yards rushing and three more TD's. 

As Rocky Mountain was putting on the final touches of their quarter-final win over CDA last Friday night at home, Highland was just getting started on their showdown at Holt Arena. The Rams had the late game at Holt last week. 

Eagle held Highland to just 14 points in the first half, and all of those came in the 1st quarter. Going in to the locker room down 14-7, the Mustangs had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of upsetting the undefeated Rams. 

Then came the third quarter. 

Between senior quarterback Dakota Tillotson dominating the offense and Highland's defense coming up with big stops and big plays (including two interceptions on the night), Highland quickly took a commanding lead of 35-7 to end the quarter. The Rams scored another one to seal the deal in the 4th, but the damage was already done. 

Highland's defense held Eagle to a paltry 54 yards rushing and held QB Hunter Floyd to 115 yards passing on 7 of 23 passes on the night. One of which (a 72-yard touchdown pass to James Hull in the first quarter) resulted in the Eagles only score on the night.

Highland's defense is running on all cylinders. James Ryan, T.J. Togiai and Kyler Manu are the Big Three on defense and have been the key to a lot of wins this season for the Rams. Rocky Mountain's offensive line is going to have to do its best to give QB Christian Blaser as much time in the pocket as they can, but it's going to be a tough assignment. Blaser certainly has the ability to run his way out of trouble and pick up yards in the process, however, and Highland is going to have to rely on their secondary to stay home and back up the front line when needed. 

Highland's offensive line is anchored by 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year Tristen Hoge. The Grizzlies will need to  find a way to break through the line and hassle Tillotson and make him either hurry his passes or try to run. Although Tillotson runs extremely well too.

Highland's defense is going to really stymie the running game of Blaser, forcing him to go to the air. If Rocky Mountain can match Highland score for score, the game could go down to the wire. If Tillotson is allowed to make his reads and if the defense can get through to rattle Blaser early, it could be over quick. 

Paul's Pick - Highland over Rocky Mountain 45-28     


Mountain View Mavericks (8-2) vs. Lake City Timberwolves (9-1): Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. (PST), Mountain View HS.

Mountain View - 81.50 (5th of 22 teams)
Lake City - 95.67 (2nd of 22 teams)

Broadcasters: Vince Trimboli and Clint Leech

Mountain View's defense was the story of the game last week as the Mavericks sent Madison back to Rexburg with a 27-19 win over the Bobcats. Madison had 145 more total yards than Mountain View, but SEVEN Bobcat turnovers pretty much tipped the scales in favor of the Mavericks.  

It took overtime last week in Coeur d'Alene for Lake City to beat Capital 41-34. The Capital running game had their way with the Lake City defense the entire first half. The Timberwolves defense rose to the occasion when it mattered most though, on the 1-yard line in overtime, stuffing Capital on the goal line three straight times to seal the win.

It's no secret that if this were a basketball game, Mountain View would be running a box-and-1 on Jerry Louie-McGee of Lake City all night. He can put up just as many rushing TD's as passing TD's. If Mountain View can find a way to stop him, they have a chance. It's going to be muddy, wet and cold. Or as Lake City calls it, Friday night.

Paul's Pick - Lake City over Mountain View 35-21



Bishop Kelly Knights (8-2) vs. Rigby Trojans (6-4): Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1:00 p.m. (MST), Bishop Kelly HS.

Bishop Kelly - 91.50 (2nd of 20 teams)
Rigby - 43.00 (8th of 20 teams)

Broadcasters: Ty Hawkins and Josh Byers

It wouldn't surprise me if there were still players and fans on the field at Lakeland High School wondering what happened last Saturday afternoon. With Lakeland leading 28-0 in the second quarter, the Hawks faithful were getting ready to take on Bishop Kelly, who beat Skyview the night before. A quick Rigby score, a 1-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Hayden Livingston to sophomore Braden Perrenoud, at the end of the 1st half was dismissed as a hiccup on the way to victory. 

But Livingston wasn't done. He hit pay dirt with two different receivers, Tyrel Phillips and Connor Francia, to close the gap to 28-21 with about 8 minutes left in the game. Then Livingston ran in another TD and Rigby made good on the 2-point conversion to complete the 29-28 comeback. 

Bishop Kelly came in to their game against conference rival Skyview last Friday night with fresh memories of the 39-9 beat down the Hawks gave the Knights, at home, two weeks before. Bishop Kelly's defense put the first two scores on the board in the 1st quarter, but the man of the night was running back Peyton Judy who ran for 162 yards with three TDs. 

With their tough, solid, defense and the multiple go-to guys on the ground on offense, Bishop Kelly will have to beat themselves with turnovers, penalties and missed assignments. Otherwise, the defending 4A state champions are going back to the state championship game.

Paul's Pick - Bishop Kelly over Rigby 48-18


Blackfoot Broncos (9-0) vs. Middleton Vikings (9-2): Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8:15 p.m. (MST), Holt Arena.

Blackfoot - 114.83 (1st of 20 teams)
Middleton - 87.17 (3rd of 20 teams)

Broadcasters: Matt Harris, Kip Blanchard, and Paul Kingsbury

The scheduling gods may have saved the best for last, as Blackfoot and Middleton will be the last semi-final game to kick off late Saturday night at Holt Arena. Both teams have big wins in the quarterfinals and are playing their best football of the year right now. 

Blackfoot bested the Sandpoint Bulldogs at home last Friday night 42-27 in front of a packed Hartkopf Field and over 15,000 more people watching online. Like so many times this season, defense was the name of the game in Blackfoot's win. The Broncos were able to push back against the tough rushing attack of the Bulldogs and pressure their QB Nate Loutzenhiser into turnovers. 

Blackfoot QB Pacen Hayes passed for four TD's, going 10 for 23 in the air for 255 yards. 

Middleton walked in to the locker room at halftime up 30-7 over Minico last Friday and never looked back in the second half, beating the Spartans at Holt Arena 36-19. The Vikings used a balanced offensive attack to keep the Minico defense on their heels, but it was the Middleton defense that really put the game away with three picks and a fumble recovery.

Middleton won't have such an easy go of it against Blackfoot Saturday night. Playing indoors at Holt Arena will benefit both teams' offenses, so it will be up to the defenses to win this game. 

Paul's Pick - Blackfoot over Middleton 35-28

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