Head Coach: Dana Strong
Years as Head Coach: 4th Season
Previous Experience: Coach at Hansen and Timberline (Weippe)
Record Last Year: 3-6
State Titles: 1988 and 1996
Bronx Holbrook, Offensive and Defensive End, 12
James Rindlisbaker, RB and LB, 12
Chance Williams, RB and LB, 12
Bennett Cooper, Offensive and Defensive End, 12
Jacob Neese, QB and DT, 12
Michael Barfuss, QB and LB, 11
Tyler Labrouche, Guard and Defensive End, 11
Kooper Swensen, Offensive and Defensive Line, 11
Bryson Hatch, Offensive and Defensive Line, 11
Date Yost, Offensive and Defensive Line, 11
Austin Hansen, Offensive and Defensive Line, 10
Cole Rindlisbaker, Offensive Line and LB, 10
Brett Freeman, Offensive and Defensive End, 10
Logan Corta, Offensive End and DB, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Bronx Holbrook – All-Conference Offensive and Defensive End
Key Players lost from last year:
Nathan Christensen, WR
Dawson Barfuss, QB
Tucker Swensen, OL/DL
“We lost just three seniors but all three were very talented and integral members of the team. Nathan had a school record 40 receptions, Dawson threw a school record 18 touchdown passes, and Tucker was an All-Conference selection on the offensive and defensive lines. All three were gamers who showed up with intensity and were ready to perform each game. Their leadership and work ethic will be missed.” – Coach Strong
Photo By: Steve Conner - #20 Bronx Holbrook
Incoming impact players:
Jace Bagley, DB and RB/Offensive End. 12
Ransom Cooper, Center and DT, 9
Bridger Hatch, QB and DB, 9
Written By: Matt Harris
The 2017 North Gem Cowboys were a team laden with youth and promise.
This 2018 version of the Cowboys are still laden with promise, but also add in quite a bit of experience into the mix. And that could fare very well for North Gem this season.
“We are excited due to the experience and talent that we have on the team this year,” said head coach Dana Strong. “We are really set at our skill positions and will field a much more experienced offensive line. Our freshman class is one of the best we have had in many years. They are a special group.”
Summer workouts greatly benefitted North Gem as many players are thoroughly immersed within the offense.
“We want a versatile lineup and the time spent working on this will pay off for us,” said Strong.
The Cowboys hope to translate last year’s growing pains into a conference championship this season. They return arguably the most experience of any team in the Rocky Mountain Conference.
“We have Bronx Holbrook and Bennett Cooper giving us a very formidable receiver set. Chance Williams and James Rindlisbaker are both very capable and tough running backs. Jacob Neese and Michael Barfuss give us two quarterbacks with unique skills. And, we have an experienced offensive line,” said Strong.
“If our offensive line fulfills their potential, it could be a really big year for us. We are doing everything we can to make it that way.”
The coach added that North Gem should be able to control the line of scrimmage and develop a balanced, time-consuming offense. Improving the rushing attack and limiting turnovers are two points of emphasis for the team.
Defensively, much of the experience gained on offense will translate to the opposite side of the ball.
Holbrook, Cooper, and Date Yost will bring a quick and experience defensive front to the field, according to Strong. Williams, Barfuss, and Rindlisbaker will anchor the linebacking corps too.
“We want to make teams have to put together long drives to score on us,” Strong said. “We are concentrating on generating turnovers and avoiding giving up big plays.” He also mentioned how his team wore down as the game went on, due to being undersized.
“We want to keep a flow of players going in and out to keep us fresher, especially since we play games at 4:00 pm at home during the heat of the day.”
Of course, in 8-man football, injuries and health always seem to play a factor in the direction a season may go. Strong is very aware of it as those injuries have piled up at times in recent seasons.
“Staying healthy will be imperative for us,” he said. “There is just not enough depth to endure injuries at a small school.”
North Gem will play a 7-game schedule this year following Sho-Ban’s announcement that they will not play football in 2018. The Cowboys kick things off at home on Aug. 24 against former conference opponent Butte County, which moved up to 1A Division-I this season.
“They are very well coached,” Strong said of the Pirates. “We clobbered them two years ago at our place and were clobbered by them at their place last year. This should be a bellweather game for us.”
The Cowboys will then host Challis on Aug. 31, followed by a trip westward to Malta to face Raft River on Sept. 7. A home date with Valley rounds out the non-conference schedule on Sept. 14. Strong said that this slate of four games should prove to be a very tough non-conference schedule.
Conference play will consist of just three games this season. North Gem will travel northward on Sept. 21 to face Watersprings in Idaho Falls. Following a bye week, the Cowboys host Mackay on Oct. 5 and then visit District 5 counterpart Rockland on Oct. 12 to complete the regular season.