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Rocky Mountain Finds a Way to Win State

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Rocky Mountain Finds a Way to Win State

Rocky Mountain celebrates the big win.

When Capital HS beat Rocky Mountain on April 2 you got the feeling that the balance of power might be shifting a little in the state of Idaho.

And in the state final, when the teams changed sides tied 10-10, that feeling remained. It may still be true that things are shifting somewhat in the Gem State, but Rocky is still on top after pulling away in the second half of the championship game to win 27-20.

And don’t expect that to change soon. Rocky Mountain is a young team—their state final backline started one senior.

Injuries had forced younger players into position, and they performed.

They have a young coach, too; for this year, anyway. Jay Singleton is the Head Coach and led the program smartly, but he also had help from Ethan van Tonder. The son of former Rocky Mountain jefe Wesley van Tonder, Ethan will be attending Grand Canyon University this fall. But he assisted with the backline this spring.

“When we lost that game against Capital we had two tries called back,” van Tonder told GRR. “We worked on our running lines and our approach six days a week. The one thing we knew was they would be undisciplined and commit penalties. The way we looked at it, if we can survive the tough part, and if we don’t give them the ball, we win the game.”

Capital stayed in there in the final with a nicely-times interception try, but that was a good wakeup call for Rocky Mountain.

“That was the moment when our kids said ‘this can’t happen again,’” said van Tonder. 

Still it wasn’t easy. Starting scrumhalf Calvin Byrd went out injured and scrumhalf Alex Orchard, who had had virtually no scrumhalf training, stepped in and did extremely welling. He set up two tries.

Isaiah Jardine made several line breaks and massive tackles; Bennett Millington was a monster presence as the forwards captain and has been all year; fullback Jayson Irvin kicked a key penalty as well as two conversions, and managed the field position game nicely with his running and kicking.

It all came together for a state championship for Rocky Mountain, who now turn their eyes toward playing 7s in the NAI 7s in August.

But with a mostly underclass lineup, don’t expect Rocky Mountain to go away soon.