Photo By Steve Conner - #68 Tanner Nett
Written by Wayne Dzubak
The history books certainly include Borah High School as one of the most celebrated football programs in Idaho. The Lions have hung 17 state football championship banners over their storied history.
But a three-decade drought separates the Lions’ latest banner from present day, a streak Head Coach Jason Burton hopes to snap.
After starting 2019 with a 1-2 record, Borah won six in a row for a 7-2 record, earning a first-round playoff bye and the right to host Highland. The Lions’ quest for an 18th crown ended in the playoffs as Borah dropped a 27-21 contest to the Rams.
Borah’s 2019 season could be summed up in two words: Austin Bolt.
Bolt did nearly everything for the Lions, filling in at quarterback, running back, defensive back, wide receiver and kick returner. Short of driving the team bus to games, Bolt departed his alma mater with an armful of honors en route to a tight end slot on the Boise State roster.
To be fair, Borah’s 2019 success wasn’t all about Austin Bolt. Six of his graduating teammates also earned postseason recognition, meaning Burton will have to call upon less experienced players to succeed this season.
The Lions have several returning stalwarts. Tanner Nett on the offensive line was first-team All-State and SIC and he’ll be blocking for running back Tyler Phimmasone, who garnered honorable mention All-SIC.
On defense, lineman Crispin Simbaragije, a second-team All-SIC selection, will anchor the Lions front line. Nett also plays defense, giving the team a pair of postseason honorees in the defensive trenches. Linebacker Hunter Knoll will bring some much-needed experience, adding to a nucleus of experienced talent for Burton to build on.
“We lost a lot of experience but I expect us to play fast, turnover focused defense in 2020,” Burton said.
Burton has a one-two running back punch in Phimmasone and Hunter Knoll, but controlling the line of scrimmage will be one of the challenges facing the Lions in 2020.
“If the skill guys can make plays we can have a balanced offense,” he said.
Burton said players like Owen Inman at receiver and linebacker and lineman Cameron Jay Joseph have shown significant growth and expects them to make big contributions.