GOODING, Idaho ( KMVT / KSVT ) Gooding Football has won three state trophies in just as many years. It's no surprise that a number of the athletes want to continue their playing careers.
"It's a great day, one of the best highlights of my life right here."
"We tried to sell them that if you work hard you can get that college scholarship and go play, these guys bought in early. It's bittersweet because the most important part of our job is see our guys grow," explained Gooding head football coach Cameron Andersen.
Ruger Jennings and Sam Funkhouser got the attention of now Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie when they were just sophomores.
Andersen said, "at the time they were skinny, lanky kind of guys and I said those two are going to play for you, you need to get to know them."
Phenicie said, "I don't know what it was, something about them and being from a small town in rural Idaho, it's one of those things there's something about those two guys. They came to camp and played their butts off, I started really following them from the junior year on."
Gooding head coach Cameron Andersen's instincts were correct. Jennings and Funkhouser committed to ISU in the fall.
Funkhouser is an all-state athlete, and unfortunately suffered a season-ending injury in October. He was afraid that ISU would rescind on their offer, not the case.
Phenicie exclaimed, "I think that's one of the worst things in this profession when you do that. You offer a kid a scholarship and you pull it, there's better ways of doing things."
"I'm starting to run, do agility stuff, we're three months out from when I had my surgery. I'm about 70% on the progress, my physical therapist Lon Egbert in Wendell said I'll be able to go for fall camp," Funkhouser said."
Jennings is a three-time all-state linebacker and made the first-team USA Today all-state linebacker list last fall. He led Idaho in tackles.
"I like the town, I like the team, I like Coach Phenicie and what he has going on, I like the big changes, I like how he recruits Idaho kids first. That's the biggest thing I like about Coach Phenicie and Coach Cooper," added Jennings.
"I'm really thankful that Phenicie has taken the commitment to Idaho kids and wants to win with local talent. He got two of the best today," Andersen chimed in on the statement regarding ISU picking Gem State talent.
All-state center and nose guard Andrew Carter is excited for the opportunity to play for Carroll College, after receiving offers from every school in the Frontier Conference.
Carter said, "they really needed me on the offensive line and with the class coming up, we'll make an impact in the Frontier Conference I hope."
Andersen on Carter, "Carroll just wined and dined him, came to the school several times, came to the house several times. He's a special player. You're going to see his name a lot in Carroll athletics."
Kolton Adkinson is an all-conference lineman, he chose Montana Western because of the program the school offers.
"Their academics is great, great block program they have, one class for four weeks, 16:1 student to professor ratio, pretty excited about it. I plan to own my own business in the future and I plan on studying wildlife ecology at Western," Adkinson explained.
Andersen on Adkinson, "he's like a Swiss Army knife, sophomore year we went to the state championship and he started every game at center, then we moved him to guard and when we had injuries. He played tackle for us, that made him really recruitable and Western felt they could bring him in and put him anywhere."
Mike Needham has offers from Carroll, the College of Idaho, Eastern Oregon University and Montana Western. He's embarking on a two-year mission and will decide at another time.