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Wednesday Weekly: May 17, 2023.
The place to be Friday and Saturday is Mountain View High School. That’s where the Idaho 5A and 4A Track & Field Championships will be held. So that’s where Burley High’s Gatlin Bair, the highest-rated football recruit in state history, will try to continue his assault on the record book. Boise State is one of Bair’s five football finalists (along with Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon and TCU), but this week it’s all about track. Last Thursday in Mountain Home in the district prelims, he ran a 10.15-second 100-yard dash, the fastest-ever time by an Idaho high-schooler. It’s also the second-fastest time in the nation this year, as is the 20.47 he ran in the 200 last month in Provo.
Forget the 4A records—Bair wants the whole enchilada this weekend. The overall state meet records were both set by Rocky Mountain’s Dallas Burroughs, the former Broncos wide receiver, back in 2011: 10.34 seconds in the 100 and 21.06 in the 200. We need to remember that Bair is only a junior. And a year ago he was a sophomore at 3A Kimberly, setting that classification’s state record for the 100 at 10.72 and the 200 at 21.41.
‘HAVE FAITH IN THE PROCESS’
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated posted a piece on conference realignment Monday: “How the War for the West – Pac-12 vs. Big 12 – may shape the college sports landscape.” It has caused a stir. Dellenger mentions San Diego State and Fresno State—and even UNLV and Colorado State. Not a peep about Boise State. And Dellenger does have credibility, and he’s really dialed in on realignment. Me? I’m just not going to worry about that stuff and trust the process. In fact, Broncos AD Jeremiah Dickey tweeted out a “have faith in the process” Monday night. San Diego State, okay. But the Broncos have it all over the Bulldogs and Rebels and Rams, and it starts with actual TV eyeballs, not households. (Not to mention facilities and program momentum.) Give yourself a break. Let’s see how it all plays out.
CEDRIC MINTER: RUSHING KING SINCE 1980
I mentioned Taylen Green’s place in the quarterback rushing pecking order at Boise State last week. Let’s look at Ashton Jeanty’s potential place in Broncos history in the future based on what he did as a true freshman Jeanty rushed for 821 yards last year. He didn’t break the freshman rushing record, which was ironically set by George Holani with his 1,014 yards in 2019. But let’s look at the Broncos’ career record. It has been held by Cedric Minter for 43 years. Minter racked up 4,475 yards from 1977-80. He played as a true freshman, too, and had 877 yards, 56 more than Jeanty. Minter had a monster sophomore season with 1,526 yards and also topped 1,000 as a junior and senior. So here you go. Jeanty would have to average 1,218 yards the next three years to reach the career record.
THE MYSTERIES OF THE PORTAL
Bob Behler had some interesting nuggets on running backs snagged by Mountain West teams out of the transfer portal yesterday, and he was kind enough to share his notes with me. While Boise State has two of the conference’s top three returning running backs in Holani and Jeanty, there’s a slew of wild cards. New out of the portal: at Colorado State, Kobe Johnson, the leading rusher at FCS power North Dakota State; at Fresno State, Damien Moore, a former starter at Cal; at Nevada, Sean Dollars from Oregon; at UNLV, Vincent Davis from Pitt, who has more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in his career; at Wyoming, Harrison Waylee, the leading rusher at Northern Illinois as a freshman last year; and at San Jose State, Quali Conley, a 1,000-yard rusher from FCS Utah Tech. Stay tuned.
IT BEGINS FOR SKINNER & MATLOCK
The past week has been something of a whirlwind for former Boise State stars JL Skinner and Scott Matlock. First, both sixth-round draft picks signed their first NFL contracts, and both were slotted according to draft position. Skinner drew a four-year, $4.036 million contract with a $196,219 signing bonus with the Denver Broncos, while Matlock got a four-year, $4.012 million deal with the L.A. Chargers, including a $172,296 bonus. Then over the weekend, both players jumped into their first NFL rookie minicamps. Matlock was rockin’ his No. 99 with the Chargers, and Skinner sported his new No. 46 with the Broncos. While Skinner is still healing from the torn pectoral muscle he suffered during training this winter, he took the field for Denver nonetheless. It was great to see that.
KTIK’s John Patrick pointed this out—NFL.com’s Chad Reuter ran a list of NFL Draft “Day 3 rookies who could compete for starter snaps in Year 1.” Reuter notes that “last year, 16 of 158 Day 3 selections started eight or more contests in their first year in the league.” Reuter’s No.10 such rookie this year is Matlock. Writes Reuter, “I projected the Chargers to select Matlock in advance of the draft because he’s a perfect fit. His power and underrated quickness will earn him a spot on the field, and I expect his snap scout to increase at the 5-technique as the season wears on.” ChargersWire at USA Today had this about Matlock after the draft: “Boise State primarily played four-man fronts. In LA’s three down fronts, Matlock can move a bit further to the outside, where his quickness will serve him well.”
BACK TO 2-3-2 FOR THE STEELIES
The schedule for the Idaho Steelheads-Allen Americans series in the ECHL Mountain Division Finals was unconventional, and it only got more-so after the tragic shooting in Allen. The Western Conference Finals are back to normal. The higher seed, the Steelheads, host the first two games, then the Toledo Walleye get the middle three, and the final two (if necessary) will be back in Boise. It all starts Saturday night in Idaho Central Arena. Who’s playing the best hockey right now? It might be Toledo, which has swept two consecutive series in the playoffs.
The Steelheads’ 7-2 loss to Allen last Friday night in Game 3 of the Mountain Division Finals was a slap in the face. The Steelheads reacted the way you’d expect this team to, routing Allen 9-3 Saturday and 6-0 Sunday to advance. How about Wade Murphy, with a hat trick Saturday and a two-goal game Sunday to help end it. And how about goaltender Adam Scheel, pitching a 37-save shutout Sunday after being pulled Friday night. Now it’ll be uncharted territory—in terms of opponent—as hasn’t faced the Walleye this season. It’s the first time the Steelies have made the Western Conference Finals in 10 years.
THE SOFTBALL DIAMOND DELIVERS
It’s been a good season for college softball in the Treasure Valley. College of Idaho is still alive in the NAIA Opening Round today, NNU made the NCAA Division II West Region final, and Boise State won the Mountain West regular season championship and produced the MW Coach and Player of the Year. The disappointment for the Broncos came in the Mountain West tournament last week, of course. KTVB’s Jay Tust reports that after missing out on an NCAA berth, sources told him Boise State had interest from another postseason invitational, but ultimately they decided against it, much like last year. “Usually these opportunities require a pretty good financial commitment,” noted Tust. Pretty much pay-to-play.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.
May 17, 1979: I remember running highlights of this game on my Channel 6 sportscast—it took a while. The wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field that day, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings, the second-highest combined score in big league history. Future Boisean Bill Buckner hit a grand slam and had seven RBIs for the Cubs, and Dave Kingman hit three home runs. Mike Schmidt hit two homers for the Phillies. The two teams combined for 11 round-trippers, 50 hits and 97 total bases. The Phils and Cubs were also involved in the highest-scoring game of all-time in 1922, with Chicago winning 26-23.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)