It wasn’t easy, but the 2020 Idaho high school football season was completed with six state championship games late last month.
And now it is time for SBLive to release its all-state football team — spanning all classifications — including individual awards.
SBLIVE’S 2020 ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAM
Player of the year: Ben Ford, QB, Eagle
A rare combination of change of pace, pure speed and strength help Ford stand out. What makes him a winner? Grit, natural leadership and a deep understanding of the game. Ford, a lifelong receiver/DB who was tapped to play quarterback as a sophomore, threw for 977 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions and ran for 1,056 yards and 12 more touchdowns on 11.5 yards per carry. In his one game playing defense, he logged nine tackles. Ford, the 5A SIC Player of the Year, led Eagle back to the 5A quarterfinals. After a nail-biting season-ending loss to Rigby, Trojans coach Armando Gonzalez called Ford “one of the best high school football players I’ve seen in a long time.”
Offensive player of the year: Jack Prka, QB, Coeur d’Alene
The steady presence and cool hand at the center of powerhouse Coeur d’Alene’s offense over the last two years put together an all-state junior season and continued to improve. As a senior, he surpassed his 2019 total touchdown count in three fewer games (40 total touchdowns: 32 passing, eight rushing) and accounted for 2,396 passing yards opposite five interceptions.
Defensive player of the year: Landon Albert, LB, Rocky Mountain
The consummate leader who started in the 2018 state championship game as a sophomore, Albert, a returning all-state performer, moved outside after spending the past two seasons as the strong-side linebacker so he could accomplish one thing – chase the football. The all-5A SIC first teamer did just that (55 tackles, five TFL, three sacks). He also plays rugby.
Lineman of the year: Braydon Ary, DL, Vallivue
When big No. 42 was in the area, opposing quarterbacks got happy feet. All the unanimous 4A SIC defensive player of the year did was make big plays, especially in the backfield (287 career tackles, 63 TFL, 33 sacks, caused nine fumbles). He was simply too fast for blockers on the edge, and dominated as a senior with 106 tackles, 21 TFL, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Breakout player of the year: Kobe Warr, QB, Rocky Mountain
His numbers (82 of 129, 1,482 yards, 17 TDs, two INT) might not jump off the page, but ask the coaches who had to defend him as a first-year starter – he was an impressive, efficient leader who was not rattled. In fact, you could make a case his play was the biggest reason why the Grizzlies went from 5A contenders to undefeated state champions.
Coach of the year: Rich Hargitt, Emmett
Among a great crop of candidates, Hargitt, a former lineman, easily got the most out of modest numbers as coach of one of the smallest 4A schools in the state. Not only did he guide the Huskies to their first 4A SIC title, then a trip to the state finals against Skyline – he also had to help his program overcome tragedy and off-the-field controversy along the way.
ALL-STATE FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
Quarterback: Caden Young, Emmett, jr.
Led Emmett on its underdog run to the 4A title game with a balanced passing game (1,879 yards and 20 touchdowns, five picks, 57.2 completion percentage) and on his feet (1,548 yards, 17 touchdowns).
Running back: Jackson Stampfli, Eagle, sr.
Explosive big-play back oozes speed, turning 107 carries into 1,282 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Running back: Teegan Thomas, Blackfoot, sr.
Dominant tailback can run past you and over you, tallying 1,058 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Wide receiver: Kayden Chan, Mountain View, sr.
Hauled in 750 yards and nine touchdowns through the air as the Mavericks’ top target. 5A SIC-West offensive player of the year.
Wide receiver: Tommy Hauser, Post Falls, sr.
He was an all-state choice a year ago and remained every bit the playmaker in 2020, hauling in 68 catches for 834 yards and nine total touchdowns to lead Post Falls to the 4A playoffs.
Wide receiver: Connor Maloney, Skyline, sr.
QB Cade Marlow’s favorite target was in the slot. Maloney caught 48 balls for 761 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns, as well as four touchdown catches in the 4A state title game.
Tight end: Jonah Elliss, Moscow, sr.
Put him anywhere on the field and he’ll soar. But the 4A Inland Empire League player of the year and Utah commit was a matchup nightmare in the Bears’ pass attack.
Offensive lineman: Titan Fleischmann, Century, sr.
Sturdy presence in the trenches helped Century allow just three sacks on the season and was the key to a flourishing run game in the postseason.
Offensive lineman: Cortland Horton, Eagle, sr.
He was the only two-way first team all-5A Southern Idaho Conference for a reason, helping pave the way for the state’s most dangerous run game.
Offensive lineman: Jackson Kohal, Coeur d’Alene, sr.
A second team all-state lineman a year ago, Kohal — a 6-4, 300-pound Air Force commit — gave all-state QB Jack Prka breathing room in the pocket and was a trusted leader for the Vikings, too.
Offensive lineman: Manu Lete, Bishop Kelly, sr.
The uber-athletic 4A SIC all-conference selection (on both sides of the ball) was active at left tackle in establishing the Knights’ run game, gap blocking — both up the middle and around the edge.
Offensive lineman: McKay Olaveson, Rigby, sr.
The most crucial piece in the Trojans’ power run game and a pulling tackle, Olvaseon was a first team all-4A High County choice.
All-purpose: Jordan Erickson, Rocky Mountain, sr.
He killed defenses in both the ground game (96 carries, 1,365 yards, 18 touchdowns) and through the air (31 catches, 671 yards, 11 touchdowns). Yes, those stats are through just nine games.
Place kicker: Crew Clark, Sugar-Salem, sr.
Did a little bit of everything for the 3A power in the five games he played, including hitting 30 of 34 PATs and booting away 18 touchbacks on kickoffs.
ALL-STATE FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
Defensive lineman: Zack Black, Rocky Mountain, sr.
Montana State commit was met by constant double teams on edge (31 tackles, two fumble recovers).
Defensive lineman: Cameron Cope, Coeur d’Alene, jr.
High-motor newcomer busted on the scene as instant backfield disruptor (12.5 sacks, 22 TFL).
Defensive lineman: Logan George, Highland, sr.
Pass rusher (7.5 sacks, 15 TFL) paired with Luke Togiai to form top defensive-line duo in state.
Defensive lineman: Brixton Gilbert, Skyline, sr.
This all-4A High Country plugger shut down the middle on all running backs (66 tackles, 11 sacks).
Linebacker: Tag Benefield, Sandpoint, sr.
Edgy two-time 4A Inland Empire defensive MVP is a relentless, punishing force (121 tackles, 14 TFL).
Linebacker: Landon Von Johnson, Rigby, sr.
Pound for pound, nobody wallops ball carriers like 4A High Country defensive MVP (91 tackles, 16 TFL).
Linebacker: Taze Stegelmeier, West Side, sr.
Finished career with second 2A title – playing on one leg (113 tackles, 13 TFL, three forced turnovers).
Linebacker: Ty Tanner, Rocky Mountain, sr.
Shed weight, got faster – and arguably became the most feared playmaker (97 tackles) on Grizzlies defense.
Defensive back: Justus Del Rio, Capital, sr.
The Treasure Valley’s top coverage cornerback played more physical this year; 4A SIC East player of the year.
Defensive back: Gabe Matthews, Declo, sr.
Returning from Tommy John surgery, Matthews picked off five passes at safety – and had 2,500 yards of total offense.
Defensive back: Brett Spencer, Weiser, jr.
A downhill attacking missile at free safety, the 3A Snake River Valley MVP was a two-way terror (61 tackles, five INT).
Defensive back: Peyton Vansteenkiste, Rigby, sr.
It was a chore moving the football on the Trojans’ defense, and he was a shutdown cornerback (31 tackles, four INT).
Hybrid: Kaysem Isom, Thunder Ridge, sr.
He played everywhere (QB, RB, WR, rover) – almost literally – for the Titans, who earned their first playoff berth.
Punter: Keegan Croteau, Bishop Kelly, sr.
Was 1,000-yard passer on offense, team’s best defensive back – and averaged 46.4 yards per punt on special teams.
HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE
QB: Cade Marlow, Skyline, sr.; QB: Kaimen Peebles, South Fremont, jr.; RB: Gunner Giulio, Coeur d’Alene, jr.; RB: Hayden Kincheloe, Homedale, jr.; RB: Seth Knothe, Bishop Kelly, jr.; RB: Westyn Smith, Emmett, sr.; WR: Eli Ames, Skyline, sr.; WR: Bruin Fleischmann, Century, jr.; WR: Zach Johnson, Lake City, so.; WR: Dallin Orme, South Fremont, sr.; TE: Colston Loveland, Gooding, jr.; TE: Thomas Symms, Homedale, sr.; OL: John Breshears, Homedale, sr.; OL: Jacob Graves, Kuna, sr.; OL: Weston Jeffries, Fruitland, sr.; OL: Tyler Skinner, Moscow, sr.; AP: Brett Bronson, Kimberly, sr.; PK: Nick Besiwick-Seidl, Boise, jr.
HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE
DL: Henry Clark, Melba, sr.; DL: Gus Elwell, Mountain View, sr.; DL: Axel Sanchez, Emmett, sr.; DL: Luke Togiai, Highland, sr.; LB: Kaden Cripps, Post Falls, sr.; LB: Ryan Harris, Sugar-Salem, jr.; LB: Luke Thompson, Teton, sr.; LB: Brett Tommasini, Eagle, sr.; DB: Demik Hatch, Hillcrest, sr.; DB: Brigham Lee, Sugar-Salem, sr.; DB: Ty Pottenger, Coeur d’Alene, sr.; DB: Zach Webb, Meridian, sr.; Hybrid: Rich Moore, Blackfoot, sr. (LB/DL); P: Sean Austin, Kuna, sr.