BOISE, Idaho — Despite the lack of helmets and pads – and some high heat – the 11th annual Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 7-on-7 Tournament and Lineman Challenge did not disappoint, providing the first taste of the upcoming Friday Night Football season.
The two-day competition brought more than 900 student-athletes and 21 teams to the Optimist Youth Sports Complex in Boise. Teams from around the state, and from various classifications, battled to claim the summer throne in events for skill players and the trenches.
On Saturday, two programs from the 5A Southern Idaho Conference (SIC) met in the passing tournament's championship contest. For Meridian, it is "Unfinished Business" this fall after back-to-back state runner-up finishes. Meanwhile, Capital made some preseason noise ahead of its debut campaign under head coach Kevin Hastin.
The Warriors struck first in the title, as Zeke Martinez found Cole Jones on a laser down the middle. Capital would answer, however, with a one-handed grab from Brody Call via AJ Danaha. The Eagles' duo teamed up for three touchdowns in the championship.
After a tight first half, Meridian got some defensive stops and kept it rolling on offense. Martinez found Carver Martin for a touchdown on an impressive effort to get the feet down in the end zone.
Based on the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 7-on-7 Tournament's scoring system, the Warriors would get the 28-26 win on Saturday in a shootout, thanks to their defense's play in the final two minutes. The victory marks Meridian's first championship in the annual event.
Martinez and the Warriors will celebrate this one, but they also have a long season ahead, one they hope will once again go deep into November:
Homedale and Pocatello made it to the varsity 7-on-7 semifinals on Saturday. Despite falling to Meridian and Capital, respectively, the two top-four finishers continued to compete in a consolation bracket.
In the junior varsity passing tournament, Owyhee earned No. 1 bragging rights, defeating Eagle. The Storm went on a tear Saturday, defeating Bishop Kelly, Middleton, Meridian and the Mustangs in the JV finale.
Over at the Lineman Challenge, each squad's group competed in seven events, including the five-man truck push, a tire flip relay and kneeling medicine ball throw. The lineman were also tasked with a spud carry relay, in Gem State fashion.
While typically not in the spotlight, the big men enjoyed showcasing their strength and agility against the faces they will battle in pads this fall. For Mountain View's Dillon Starkel and Troy Grizzle, the Lineman Challenge provides "a good margin to see where we're at."
The Mavericks were able to capture the FIPB Lineman Challenge title, achieving the best overall team score. Mountain View's lineman squad, and winners of each event this weekend, received a banner and gifts cards to DICK'S Sporting Goods during an awards presentation.
Lineman Challenge results: (1) Mountain View, (2) Eagle, (3) Kuna, (4) Capital, (t-5) Middleton and Owyhee
It only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was one of the most exciting events of the day, as offensive lineman battled in the Tug-of-War. The competition is slated prior to the 7-on-7 JV and varsity championship games, so everyone is able to watch the team-on-team meeting.
The single-elimination event consisted of the top-four finishers in the Lineman Challenge, brining Mountain View, Capital, Kuna and Eagle to the rope.
In the end, Kuna was able to claim the Tug-of-War championship, defeating Capital. The Kavemen told KTVB their banner will go straight to the weight room for display.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl summer event highlighted the top high school football players in the Treasure Valley and eastern Idaho, but it also shined a light on a program many of these student-athletes were once apart of. The two-day competition donates all net proceeds to the Optimist Youth Football Financial Assistance Program.
Each year, the program helps more than 100 children who would not have the opportunity to play youth football. According to Optimist, last year's football challenge raised nearly $5,000 for the Financial Assistance Program.
The Rocky Mountain High School football team made history a year ago, becoming the first team to win all four events between the JV and varsity 7-on-7 Tournaments, Lineman Challenge and Tug-of-War competition. The Grizzlies did not participate in the 2023 FIPB football challenge.
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