Photo By Michella Davenport - #24 Riley Trogden
Written by Will Hoenike
A few years ago, the football program at Mullan High couldn’t play a full varsity schedule. There were losing streaks. There were six-man games as a result of low turnout.
Then, a cooperative agreement presented itself with nearby St. Regis, Montana. The two schools risked not being able to play at all independently, so they joined forces. In year two of the co-op, the Tigers won the North Star League championship and advanced to the 1A Division 2 playoffs.
Welcome to 2020, where the Mullan/St. Regis Tigers have advanced from the depths to the position of favorites in the North Star, despite losing All-State performers Skye Gallaway (who headed to Montana Western to continue his academic and football career) and Ian Farris.
Head coach Stetson Spooner and his assistant, Jesse Allan, have some nice pieces returning this season, headlined by the Trogden cousins, senior Riley and junior Luke, who each earned first-team All-League honors last fall. They’re joined by the Ball brothers (Adam is a junior, Caleb is a sophomore) to form the core of the Tiger attack.
On offense, Caleb is back for his second season as the team’s quarterback and he’ll be charged with getting the ball to Adam and the Trogdens in an offense that averaged over 48 points per game last season.
“For an eight-man squad, I would say we are decently balanced (on offense) but lean a little more toward the running game,” Spooner said. “We have some monsters in the open field and, if given a seam, they can cause problems for opposing defenses.”
Spooner has a group of sophomores – Blake Layton, Kason Lowman and Floyd Nelson – who will have an opportunity to step into larger roles this fall on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Riley Trogden leads the way from his defensive back position. His experience and discipline free up linebackers Like Trogden and Adam Ball to chase down ball carriers while Layton is expected to hold down a key spot on the defensive line.
The 1A Division 2 North Star League underwent a bit of a facelift from last season to now. Lakeside of Plummer moved up to 1A Division 1 and Kootenai, who wasn’t able to field a team last fall, is expected to return. Mullan/St. Regis has scheduled home-and-home contests with Kootenai and Clark Fork to fill out league play with the league champion qualifying for postseason play. Many eyes are on the season-ending matchup with Clark Fork – featuring returning league MVP Cameron Garcia – in Mullan on Halloween after the two teams put on an epic performance late last season, a game won by Mullan/St. Regis, 44-40, that ultimately decided the North Star title.
“Our second game with Clark Fork last season left the crowds, players, and coaches wanting more,” Spooner said. “Clark Fork, late in the year, always seems to be a great football competition that displays coaching, talent, and competition at the highest levels from both teams.”
They’ll get more this season. And neither team can overlook Kootenai, the once-dominant eight-man program that is rebounding from a situation Spooner and his program can relate to: low turnout. Which team will emerge? It may take until Halloween to know.
Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated Mulln/St. Regis scores and schedules throughout the season.