PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Taze Stegelmeier, sr. LB, West Side

Tyson Moser was a little concerned.

Leading up to the state title game against Firth, Moser had his West Side scout team run a common wheel route. Problem was, the Pirates’ best linebacker kept getting burned.

Taze Stegelmeier played all season with a torn hip flexor suffered in a preseason scrimmage against North Fremont, and it was certainly affecting him before the Pirates' biggest game of the year. But in the title game, Firth ran the wheel route and Stegelmeier intercepted it — the perfect capper on a year in which he played through pain but made the plays when he needed to.

“It’s my senior year, we’ve got a pandemic going on, I wanted to play as much football as I possibly could,” Stegelmeier said. “They said it’s going to hurt all season and I said, well, if I get to play football, that’s worth it.”

Stegelmeier finished with 17 tackles and two interceptions in that title game, with his second pick coming with seconds left in a 39-0 win, the Pirates' sixth shutout in 11 games.

"I feel amazing," Stegelmeier said after the state title game. "I made it through the season, we won the game. With all the crap that went with it, it was an outstanding year. This is the greatest battle I’ve ever had to deal with, personally, and this just feels amazing.

"It hurts like heck every day, but I pushed through it and get to hold up a state championship trophy at the end of it."

Stegelmeier's effort helped West Side win its second straight 2A state championship and increase its school-record winning streak to 21. Stegelmeier racked up 113 tackles as West Side allowed a measly five points a game. As Moser noted, Stegelmeier was the best defensive player on the best defensive team.

He was named the all-state player of the year in 2A by Idaho coaches.

“He was unblockable," Soda Springs coach Colter Evans said. "I have not seen a defensive player have that kind of impact in a high school game."

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB — Easton Durham, sr., Highland

The lowdown: One of the top all-around athletes in the area, Durham was a lockdown corner with 43 tackles and an interception. His most impressive work, however, came at quarterback. Highland’s plan was for junior Jack Whitmer to take over under center, moving Durham to a wide receiver/running back hybrid role. But it became clear that Durham was still the Rams’ best option at QB, where he completed 64% of his passes for 2,006 yards and 20 touchdowns and added another 622 yards and 14 scores on the ground.

Quotable: “He’s the ultimate competitor. He doesn’t like to lose, doesn’t matter if it’s tic-tac-toe. He broke his hand three weeks ago in baseball and now he’s running track. He’s a bulldog, man, he doesn’t like to lose. I’d say he’s an all-around athlete. He played quarterback great for me. He was great at DB.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

RB — Kaleb Demuzio, sr., Highland

The lowdown: Demuzio wrapped up one of the best careers for a Highland tailback, moving into the top of the Rams’ all-time leading rushers with 2,239 yards. The bruising back was a first-team 5A all-state selection after rushing for over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, including a 239-yard masterpiece in Highland’s playoff win over Meridian.

Quotable: “It’s like trying to tackle an offensive lineman who can run like a cat. Seriously, who wants to tackle him? I don’t. He is a big, strong, powerful kid who runs fast. Hard to defend run games like that.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

RB — Teegan Thomas, sr., Blackfoot

The lowdown: Quick and powerful, Thomas burst onto the gridiron scene as a junior in 2019 with a first-team all-state selection as Blackfoot went to the state title game. He was as good as ever in 2020, running for 1,223 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading Blackfoot to the state quarterfinals and picking up his second straight first-team all-state selection. He recently signed to play football at Carroll College in Montana.

Quotable: “Teegan is pretty gifted. He has really good shiftiness and good speed. Everyone knew he was the go-to guy on our team. Everyone would put their best player on Teegan and when we needed a play, he was there.” –– Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley

WR — Bruin Fleischmann, jr., Century

The lowdown: Part of a Century receiving corps that was one of the deepest in the area, Fleischmann was the Diamondbacks’ most dynamic threat. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior who recently committed to Air Force led Century with 843 yards and an astounding 15 touchdowns, which was four more than any wideout in the area.

Quotable: “Bruin is a specimen. He can run, can catch, can block. He has all the tools. If you can get him the football, he’s going to make some plays.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

WR — Jovan Sowell, sr., Century

The lowdown: Sowell wasn’t quite as dominant in 2020 as he was in 2019, when he went over 1,000 yards. But the shifty speedster was still a handful for defenses across the state, leading the Diamondbacks with 67 catches, racking up 775 yards (second in the area behind Fleischmann) and being named second-team all-state. Sowell is committed to Idaho State.

Quotable: “Jovan is that self-starter that loves proving everyone wrong. He’s a lover and fighter all at the same time. He’s one of the most fun kids I’ve ever coached and you never have to doubt his effort or intensity.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

OL — Hipa Galo, sr., Highland

The lowdown: Galo finished his Highland career with back-to-back first-team All-Area and all-state selections. It doesn’t get much better than that. In 2020, the 6-foot-3 senior was once again the main man paving the way for a big season by Rams running back Kaleb Demuzio.

Quotable: “He’s big, strong and dependable. He plays to the whistle and is physically dominant. He’s going to go walk on somewhere and is going to be a huge pickup for somebody.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

OL — Titan Fleischmann, sr., Century

The lowdown: Fleischmann was a tight end for the first three years of his career at Century, making the All-Area second team twice and honorable mentions once. That athleticism - and his powerful 6-foot-5 frame - helped Fleischmann make an easy transition to the O-line as a senior. Despite only playing the position for one year, Fleischmann committed to play offensive line at Montana State.

Quotable: “The ultimate coach's player. Every coach wants Titan on their team. He’s a natural leader and his desire to go to the next level and do those big things are incredible. He’s a great leader. Physically, he’s an imposing creature. Exceptionally long, big and heavy body and he knows how to leverage his body.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

OL — Kyler Williams, jr., Highland

The lowdown: With every accomplishment and big-yardage night, Highland running back Kaleb Demuzio made sure to credit his offensive line. The physicality and power from Highland’s front was evident. Kyler Williams was a big reason why. The junior developed mightily over the last three seasons and overmatched most of the guys who lined up across from him.

Quotable: “Kyler, he’s a worker, he’s a technician. He’s made himself a tremendous O-lineman. He's physical and takes pride in pancakes and defeating his defensive opponents.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

OL — Campbell Hicks, sr., Century

The lowdown: Hicks rarely flashes a grin during competition. He’s the definition of all-business, a frightening presence sure to dominate. Hicks finished fourth in the 220-pound wrestling 4A state championships and, along with Titan Fleischmann, anchored one of the better fronts in the area. He was a second-team all-state selection as a senior, a monster force in the trenches that helped the Diamondbacks reach the state semifinals.

Quotable: “Campbell had to have been the pound-for-pound, bone-for-bone meanest, toughest kid on the team. His meal ticket was his toughness and he loved to get after people. His wrestling ability played well into his football game.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

OL — Trevyn Hadley, sr., West Side

The lowdown: Like many 2A schools, West Side didn’t have a lot of bulk up front, but the Pirates still relied on a bruising running game. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Hadley was West Side’s leader up front. Stepping in for graduated first-team All-Area selection Armando Montano, Hadley was named first-team all-state.

Quotable: “Our best pass rusher, we wanted to make sure we kept him off Trevyn’s side just because of how well he plays in run blocking. When I was grading him out, I don’t know if he missed a block.” –– Soda Springs coach Colter Evans

K — Ian Hershey, jr., Highland

The lowdown: Hershey’s been an under-the-radar part of Highland’s success over the last two years, and picks up his second straight All-Area first-team selection. The junior kicker’s big leg helped the Rams pick up points on stalled drives and pin opponents back on kickoffs. He finished 8 for 16 on field goals and 43 of 45 on extra points, booted 31 touchbacks and was named first-team all-state.

Quotable: “Ian is just one of those kids who is super-focused, who knows his duties. His dad, who is also our kicking coach, has him really dialed in. I believe that when we cross the 40-yard line, we have three points.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

ATH — Bryler Shurtliff, jr., West Side

The lowdown: Once you leave Pocatello heading south, Shurtliff might be the best athlete between the Gate City and the Utah state line. The lanky junior was a dangerous wide receiver, a lockdown cornerback and a reliable kicker for the dominant 2A state champs, picking up first-team all-state honors at all three positions. Shurtliff had 409 yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver, then turned around to post eight pass breakups and six interceptions as a cornerback.

Quotable: “He’s their jack of all trades, only he’s a master at all of them. In our spread offense, we want to create options and any time Shurtliff was over there we would go somewhere else. You talk about the way the college game and NFL game is going to those long, rangy corners. He’s that.” –– Soda Springs coach Colter Evans

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE 

QB — Owen Teuscher, sr., Bear Lake

The strong-armed Bear Lake senior stretched defenses with his ability to hurl accurate deep passes, completing more than 60% of his passes and throwing for almost 2,500 yards while compiling 28 touchdowns. He also averaged 45.7 yards per punt, one of the top marks in the area.

RB — Cage Brokens, jr., West Side

Brokens, the top back in West Side’s dominant rushing attack, was named first-team all-state after running for 892 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and scoring 16 touchdowns.

RB — Michael Belnap, jr., Marsh Valley

Belnap ran for 1,052 yards and eight TDs and added 88 tackles as a linebacker for the Eagles, making second-team all-state in 3A at both positions.

WR — Cole Harris, sr., Preston

Harris was one of only three local receivers to go over 700 yards, catching 41 passes for 712 yards and eight touchdowns for Preston.

WR — Teague Matthews, fr., Rockland

The long, lanky Matthews had no problem adjusting to varsity ball as a freshman, making 40 catches for 626 yards and seven touchdowns.

OL — Rhett Larson, jr., Preston

A two-time all-conference honoree, Larson makes his first appearance on an All-Area team after the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder anchored Preston’s offensive line.

OL — Ian Allen, jr., Highland

Listed at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, Allen was a big part of Highland’s dominant offensive line before finishing runner-up at heavyweight at the 5A state wrestling tournament.

OL — Drake Anderton, sr., Snake River

Snake River used the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Anderton as a pulling guard to open holes for a diverse running attack, and the senior O-lineman was named second-team all-state.

OL — Ethan Suter, sr., Soda Springs

Suter, a senior, was the heart and soul of Soda Springs’ team — and the spearhead of the Cardinals’ offensive line, as he was named second-team all-state at center.

OL — Jaxsen Tuia, sr., Century

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Tuia made first-team all-conference at center and second-team all-conference on the defensive line.

K — Brayden Stouse, sr., Century

Stouse didn’t get to try many field goals for Century, making all three of his attempts, but the senior was also good on extra points and kickoffs, and was named second-team all-state.

ATH — Zac Snow, sr., Century

Snow finished fourth on Century in total yards, and his biggest moment came on offense when he scored three touchdowns in Century’s crosstown win over Pocatello, but he was a solid defensive back as well with 69 tackles and three interceptions.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL — Luke Togiai, sr., Highland

The lowdown: The youngest of the uber-talented Togiai brothers, Luke was a run-stuffing interior lineman who often drew a double team. Though Togiai only had 1 1/2 sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for loss, his presence freed up space for his teammates and made opposing run games almost nonexistent. He was a first-team all-state defensive lineman and managed to compile more than 50 tackles despite the constant double teams.

Quotable: “Luke is a tough, physical kid. He makes a lot of plays. He’s an intimidating factor at the three- or one-technique. You had to double-team or he was going to defeat the guy in front of him.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

DL — Logan George, sr., Highland

The lowdown: George is one of the most intimidating athletes in the area. He’s built like an ox and runs like a gazelle, a versatile edge rusher who always seemed to disrupt opposing quarterbacks and create chaos in the backfield. He notched 65 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 7 1/2 sacks. George, who also won the 220-pound 5A wrestling state championship, was a massive part of the success of Highland’s defense and will play football at Utah State after a mission.

Quotable: “Logan, he’s a full-speed, to-the-whistle player whether it’s Monday in practice or Friday in games. He has a motor. He’s a mean kid. Him and Luke, they were not friendly people. When they got to the quarterback or running back, they got there with a vengeance.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

DL — Wesley Millburn, sr., West Side

The lowdown: Along with Taze Stegelmeier at linebacker and Bryler Shurtliff at defensive back, Millburn gave West Side a first-team all-state player at all three levels on defense. Millburn was an easy call for all-state after putting up ridiculous stats — 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four fumble recoveries — for a Pirates defense that dominated everybody it played.

Quotable: “Man, I remember watching film and talking to our offensive line coach and offensive coordinator and saying, ‘We have to find a way to double-team him every play.’ He has a great get off and knows how to use his hands. At this level, you rarely see that technique.” –– Soda Springs coach Colter Evans

LB — Hunter Killian, jr., Pocatello

The lowdown: Offensive players lived in fear of Killian — and if they didn’t, they should have. The Poky star was an old-school linebacker, roaming sideline to sideline delivering big hits. Killian finished with 102 tackles and was one of the key players for an opportunistic Poky defense. With five interceptions and four forced fumbles, he did as much as any player in the area to create turnovers and get his offense back on the field.

Quotable: “He’s got everything. He’s obviously got the football knowledge, he’s got the work ethic, he’s got the attitude. But away from the field, he’s got the grades. Great kid, great family, he really is one of those guys that’s got it all.” –– Pocatello coach Dave Spillett

LB — Easton Millward, sr., Century

The lowdown: If a downfield passing game led by first-team All-Area receivers Bruin Fleischmann and Jovan Sowell was Century’s calling card, Millward represented the grittier side of the Diamondbacks. A hard-nosed two-way player, Millward was named the 4A District 5 player of the year and first-team all-state at linebacker after racking up 128 tackles and nine TFLs. He also ran for 262 yards, third on the team, at 7.7 yards per carry and scored three rushing touchdowns.

Quotable: “I have not coached too many kids who can cover sideline to sideline. His ability to cover the whole field is what set him apart from the rest of our defensive guys. I just love his grit and hustle.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

LB — Bowen Robinson, jr., Blackfoot

The lowdown: It didn’t matter where Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley put him, Robinson was able to do the job for the Broncos. The ideal of a modern linebacker — stopping the run, dropping into coverage, rushing the passer — Robinson finished with 68 tackles and nine sacks. He was named first-team all-state.

Quotable: “Bowen has unique ability because he can do a lot of things. He allowed us to match up a linebacker on whoever we wanted to. He matched up on slot receivers and running backs. It was a bonus -- he was a safety playing linebacker last year. He would create mismatches with his versatility.” –– Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley

LB — Scott Hunsaker, sr., Soda Springs

The lowdown: Hunsaker was the driving force behind maybe the most surprising team in the area as Soda Springs finished 5-4, the Cardinals’ first winning season since 2013. Playing running back and linebacker, he hardly came off the field for Soda Springs. Hunsaker had 114 tackles and 10 tackles for loss at linebacker, where he was voted first-team all-state. With 1,510 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, he was also by far the Cardinals’ most productive player on offense.

Quotable: “He’s a complete-package player. He has the speed, football knowledge and high motor that never stops. He did all the little things really well. But his versatility is what helped us the most. Just being able to put him anywhere on the field and run to the football is what made us so successful.” –– Soda Springs coach Colter Evans

DB — Myles Gifford, sr., Century

The lowdown: Gifford may as well have been a magnet. It was remarkable how, time after time, passes kept finding his hands. No local player had more interceptions than Gifford’s eight, a stat highlighted by three against Preston and a 35-yard pick-six in a playoff win over Bishop Kelly. Gifford added 26 tackles and 10 defended passes, earning first-team all-state honors.

Quotable: “Myles is a guy who, from my vantage point, I wasn't always sure if he was in the right position, but he always got in the right position. Sometimes it would look like he was in the wrong alignment then he would be running back a pick six.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson 

DB — Adam Jones, jr., Highland

The lowdown: Jones transferred to Highland from Pocatello at the start of the season and became an anchor for the Rams’ secondary. The 5-foot-8, 150-pound junior played with the finesse of a ballerina and the sturdiness of a sumo wrestler. He could fly to the ball then lay down a massive hit in the middle of the field. He was named second-team all-state team after collecting 44 tackles, five pass breakups, a pair of picks and two forced fumbles.

Quotable: “We knew he was a great corner but, you want to talk about a mano-a-mano corner, he accepts the challenge every snap. As a receiver, you better be ready. He’s not afraid to mix it up, he’ll get after you and hit you.” –– Highland coach Gino Mariani

DB –– Jonah Sowell, sr., Century

If things went to plan, one could watch an entire Century game and never even notice Sowell. He was the Diamondbacks' top corner all season, tasked with shutting down the other team’s best receiver. And he often did. Sowell tallied 47 tackles, seven passes defended, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Quotable: “The silent assassin. You never had to worry about him. You could put him on an island on the corner and never had to think about him. He’s long, rangy, fast and has a heck of a vertical leap.” –– Former Century coach Travis Hobson

DB — Jaxon Ball, sr., Blackfoot

Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley thinks that if Jaxon Ball played football in Texas, he’d be a Division I prospect. That’s how highly he thinks of his senior safety. Ball may not have racked up eye-popping stats – 60 tackles, six TFLs and one forced fumble – but he was the gas that allowed the Blackfoot defense to run. He was fast enough to cover a slot receiver and powerful enough to stuff a running back at the line.

Quotable: “Jaxon Ball, reflecting on the season, I probably didn’t appreciate his leadership as much as I should’ve. He was always positive and was a big, fast kid. He’s 6-1 and runs well. He played more in the box and he didn’t get recognized much in all-area and all-conference teams because the stats weren’t there, but he erased the receiver he guarded.” –– Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley

P — Matthew Christensen, sr., Pocatello

Christensen was Pocatello’s iron man. Whether he was punting, playing wide receiver or playing defensive back, it was rare to see him come off the field. Not only that, he was solid at all three positions, with 40 catches for 517 yards and five touchdowns on offense and 34 tackles and two interceptions on defense. Christensen’s versatility helped him with an achievement that few players can boast, as he was named first-team all-conference at three positions.

Quotable: “For a high school kid, you don’t see many who can drop back and put it where they want. I think he’s pretty accurate. He’s just a good athlete. Good receiver. Good defensive back. Good punter.” — Former Century coach Travis Hobson

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL — Marcus Lee, sr., Century

Lee was first-team all-conference on the defensive line after the 6-foot, 200-pounder racked up 56 tackles and four sacks, leading the Diamondbacks in the latter category.

DL — Clayton Franz, sr., Snake River

Franz ended his career as the best defensive lineman in 3A District 5, with nine sacks in nine games for the Panthers as a senior.

DL — Sloan Lambson, jr., Highland

Lambson’s looking like the one who’ll carry on Highland’s defensive line tradition after the 215-pounder had 6 1/2 sacks and 7 1/2 tackles for loss as a junior.

DL — Will Torman, sr., Soda Springs

Torman was just about unblockable, racking up 54 tackles, 11 sacks and three forced fumbles for a Soda Springs defense that improved greatly as the season went on.

LB — Logan Corta, sr., North Gem

After being second-team all-state in 1A DII in 2019, Corta stepped up to the first team in 2020 thanks to some jaw dropping stats — 153 tackles, 13 pass breakups, four sacks and three interceptions.

LB — Mason Fullmer, so., Highland

Fullmer, just a sophomore, made second-team all-state after stuffing the stat sheet for Highland with 85 tackles, 8 1/2 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

LB — Andrew Adkins, sr., American Falls

An old-school two-way player, Adkins had 92 tackles and seven sacks as a linebacker, ran for 701 yards and six touchdowns, and was named second-team all-state.

DB — Payton Howe, jr., Marsh Valley

Howe was named second-team all-state in 3A after racking up 36 tackles, leading the Eagles with three interceptions and also compiling a team-high 216 receiving yards.

DB — Casey Bruner, sr., Pocatello

Bruner helped set the tone for Poky’s solid season with an interception and a touchdown catch in the Indians’ big season-opening win over Madison, and finished the year with 47 tackles, two picks and a forced fumble.

DB — Treyson Draper, sr., Grace

Draper transferred in from Wyoming and made an instant impact for the Grizzlies, picking up first-team all-conference honors at quarterback as well as DB.

DB — Stryker Wood, sr., Blackfoot

Wood always seemed to be in the right place for Blackfoot, a dynamic ball hawk who finished the season with a half-dozen interceptions and more than 50 tackles.

P — Ian Hershey, sr., Highland

Averaging 41.1 yards per punt, Hershey was named first-team all-state at punter as well as kicker.