Ahead of Friday, which is season kickoff day for District 6 clubs, here are a few matchups to watch for.
Rocky Mountain Rumble
If there’s one venue to go to for good football this weekend, it’s Madison’s Bobcat Stadium in Rexburg. That’s the site of the 2021 Rocky Mountain Rumble, a set of seven games that pits Idaho teams against Utah opponents.
The event starts Friday, featuring two local teams. Sugar-Salem squares off with Morgan, which is set for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Diggers are seeking a fourth-straight 3A state title, which makes this game interesting — how will Sugar-Salem’s quest for a rare four-peat begin?
Also on Friday will be Skyline and Green Canyon, which is scheduled to kick at 7 p.m. This tilt is interesting for a few of the same reasons. The Grizzlies are coming off a 4A state championship season, but now, many of the players who engineered that run have graduated. It’s on players like quarterback Lachlan Haacke, receivers Abrahn Silverio and Kenyon Sadiq and George Price to replace key losses on offense.
The event will wrap up at 8 p.m. Saturday with Madison and Bear River. The host Bobcats will take the field looking different than last season, starting with new head coach Chandler Rhoades, who is taking over for longtime coach Mitch Buck, who retired at the end of last season. Madison is coming off a 2-7 season, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of progress Rhoades can make in his first season in Rexburg.
Firth vs. West Side
The only thing that would make a Firth/West Side season-opener more intriguing is if the teams squared off at Bobcat Stadium, where the Pirates walloped the Cougars in the 2A state title game last season.
The game will take place at West Side, but Firth will get a chance at revenge on Friday. Fresh off an 8-4 season, head coach Jordan Bartlett will try to guide his Cougars to a revenge in the second act, this time with returning quarterback Gage Vasquez, running back Athan Blonquist and lineman Alex Ortiz.
If the Cougars want to make a return trip to the state title game this year, taking down the team that stopped them from winning it all last season would be a good start.
Idaho Falls vs. Hillcrest
On its face, this game may not provide much intrigue. The Tigers languished through a winless 2020 campaign, and the Knights enter with a new head coach and a largely new roster.
But both clubs feel like they have something to prove. Idaho Falls and head coach Marty Duffin like the pieces they return, like senior quarterback Skyler Olsen and senior running back Kyan Jesperson, who figure to fuel an offense that wasn’t all bad last season.
On the other side, first-year Hillcrest coach Brennon Mossholder wants to open his first game by proving his system works. The Knights have said goodbye to the ground attack that previous head coach Kevin Meyer developed, instead installing a spread system that Mossholder hopes will put playmakers Peyton King and Zach Greenig in space, where they can take advantage of their athleticism.
One will have to give Friday night at Thunder Stadium.