Rocky Mountain High School
Conference: 5A Southern Idaho Conference - West Division Pod B
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Head Coach: Chris Culig
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 24 Years
Record Last Year: 9-3
State Titles: 2015
Art Roper, Assistant HC/OL
Troy Gleave, Co-OC/QB (Pass)
Tim Souza, WR/SPC (Pass)
Mike Hanneman, Co-OC/FB (Option)
Derek Wilson, QB (Option)
Brett Casey, WR (Option)
Blake Gonzales, Z/J (Option), K/P
Chris Culig, Co-DC
Tim Stanley, Co-DC/Safeties
Ron Manu, OLB
John Zamberlin, ILB
John Gough, DL
Carter Kuehl, RB, 12 (5’6”, 185 pounds)
Keeghan Freeborn, OL/DT (6’1”, 305 pounds)
Kyle Van Tonder, RB/QB, 12 (5’10”, 180 pounds)
JT Ti’a, CB (5’10”, 175 pounds)
Trevor Manu, Safety (5’9”, 175 pounds)
Tre Page, QB (5’10”, 175 pounds)
Returning Players with Honors:
Carter Kuehl, Co-Offensive Player of the Year in SIC and First Team All-State RB
Keeghan Freeborn, First Team All-SIC and First Team All-State OL
JT Ti’a, Named top DB/WR at 2017 BYU Summer Camp
Key Players lost from last year:
Zach Redd, Center, now playing at Montana State
Conner Wood, T, now playing at Montana State
Jake Wilkerson, T, now playing at Idaho State
Kyle Frazier, LB, now playing at Rocky Mountain College
Payton Pettigrew, LB, now playing at College of Idaho
Photo By: Steve Conner- #3 Carter Kuehl
Incoming impact players:
Will McMullin, QB, 12, transfer from Boise HS
Devin Dawson, DT, 12 (6’4”, 230 pounds)
“Missed 2016 due to an injury. We are expecting big things due to his speed, strength and motor. Plays the game like it is intended,” Coach Culig.
Written by: Sven Alskog
After winning a state championship in 2015 and leading the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies to a 38-9 record in four seasons on the sideline, Scott Criner took a position as Athletic Director at Eagle High School this offseason.
While the loss of one of the most successful coaches in the state is always tough to combat, the Grizzlies have the benefit of what was and continues to be a strong coaching staff to help ease the transition for first year head coach Chris Culig.
Culig is no stranger to the program, having been the defensive coordinator under Criner, a good friend who he has coached with for 14 years.
“I’ve already been there as a part of it, and I’d like to think I have contributed to some of our success,” said Culig. “So I don’t feel any pressure from the football perspective, but Coach Criner was so well liked on and off the field. Filling those shoes is a little tougher.”
Rocky Mountain has a stable of quality returning talent, along with an experienced coaching staff surrounding the new head man on the sideline.
Offensively the Grizzlies will rely on a self-described “two-headed monster” for play calling between passing game specialist Troy Gleave and option game play-caller Mike Hanneman.
Each coordinator has the benefit of SIC Co-Conference Player of the Year Carter Kuehl returning. Last year as a junior Kuehl ran for 1,997 yards, while also winning state championships in the 100-meter dash (10.65 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (22.4 seconds). The senior to-be already has offers from Idaho, Air Force and Cal Poly.
“Carter’s unbelievable. One of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around. We’ve got some good weapons on offense to go with the fastest kid in the state,” added Culig.
Some of the other notable weapons for Rocky include Kyle Van Tonder and Tre Page for a team with as much firepower when it comes to a run game as any in the state.
One year removed from throwing for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns at Boise, Will McMullin had his transfer request approved on August 2, making him eligible for the season as well. It is yet to be seen, but the senior quarterback could potentially become another offensive threat.
That talent goes to work behind a young line overall led by Keeghan Freeborn, a dominating presence who will play both sides of the ball for the first time for the Grizzlies this season.
“We have a chance to be really good [defensively],” said Culig. “Keeghan playing two ways this year will be big. He didn’t do that last year. With our defensive backs everybody is saying we should be pretty good, but they have gotta go prove it.”
Another key addition to that front will be Devin Dawson, who missed all of last season due to injury. Dawson brings size and a great motor to the field whenever he is out there.
In the defensive backfield Rocky Mountain has JT Ti’a and Trevor Manu, two of the most talented players at their respective positions in Idaho, with Ti’a having been named the top defensive back and wide receiver at the BYU Summer Camp.
The spot on defense with the most to replace looks to be the linebacker unit according to Culig.
“We need to find two new linebackers. Garrett Beck moves to the inside linebacker spot from safety and Joe Strickland at outside linebacker.”
If everything falls together the way many throughout the state feel it has the potential to do, the Grizzlies are a dangerous bunch on defense.
“Our secondary will be outstanding [and] team speed will be very good,” said Culig.
Coming off a 9-3 season a year ago which culminated with a trip to the semifinals for the third time in four years, Rocky Mountain hopes to get back to the championship game this time around.
While there may be a new face in charge on the sideline, the perfect guy is in place to carry on the tradition.
“[Criner] always let me be me. I coached with him for 14 years, so we are really good friends. I’m going to keep being me and do what I do,” said Culig.
But with anybody, there are some slight differences that will be noticeable.
“I’m a little more intense maybe,” added the new head coach.
The first opportunity to see the Culig-led Grizzlies will come on August 26 as Rocky Mountain heads to Pocatello for the annual Rocky Mountain Rumble to face off with Spanish Springs (NV).