With so many standout players from Flathead County’s five high schools, it wasn’t possible to squeeze all of the worthy candidates into our limited space. So we took a sampling of stars from each school to represent their respective football teams. From linebackers to offensive linemen to quarterbacks, it’s clear that Northwest Montana is chock-full of talent.
Tyler Thomas (Sr., Flathead) – 6 feet 3, 265 pounds: Thomas dominates football games without ever touching the ball. On the offensive line he can single-handedly open up a huge hole for running backs or give his quarterback ample time to survey the field. On the defensive line, Thomas demands double teams. College scouts long ago took notice, as did all-state voters: he was named first-team all-state for defense and second-team for offense. Thomas, who is also a star wrestler, is headed to Oregon State University to play football next year.
Thomas on the dirty work of being a lineman: “Being down in the trenches, you don’t necessarily get recognition, but you’re always helping your guys.”
Shay Smithwick-Hann (Jr., Glacier) – 6 feet 4, 205 pounds: Only a junior, Smithwick-Hann’s brightest days at quarterback could still be ahead of him, but the talented field general has already proven he’s among the state’s best. This season Smithwick-Hann threw for 240 yards per game and 22 touchdowns, both second in the Class AA. He was selected honorable mention all-state. Smithwick-Hann is an all-state basketball player as well, but his dream is to play college quarterback.
Smithwick-Hann on why he’s so comfortable with a football: “Ever since I could walk, I’ve had a ball in my hand.”
Mackey Nolan (Sr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet, 200 pounds: Nolan can do everything on the football field. Literally. He was voted first-team all-conference at four different positions: fullback, inside linebacker, place kicker and punter. He was named all-state at punter. He also frequently played quarterback throughout high school. This tremendous athlete is a basketball standout as well. Nolan hopes to punt in college, but he wouldn’t mind playing some linebacker and fullback too.
Nolan on why he loves football: “You can do things that anywhere else would be illegal. You can’t really think out there. You kind of just react.”
Aaron Tkachyk (Sr., Whitefish) – 5 feet 11, 155 pounds: Tkachyk is a versatile athlete, as he proved last spring when he won the state championship in the long jump. After a stint at running back, Tkachyk moved over to receiver full-time this year. He finished the season with 32 receptions and 613 yards, both second in the conference, and a remarkable 19.3 yards per catch. He’s also a good kick returner and punter. Tkachyk would like to punt or do track in college.
Tkachyk’s view on football: “It’s really the only team sport. One person can’t do it. The whole team needs to be working together.”
Donny Tudahl (Sr., Bigfork) – 6 feet, 225 pounds: Tudahl is a bruiser. He loves football at its most basic, or primal, if you will. For Tudahl, the element of contact is the beauty of football. Tudahl’s tenacity on the field led to a second-team all-conference selection at inside linebacker and the co-MVP award for the Vikings. Though he’s also in basketball and track, he would like to play college football, possibly as a long snapper.
Tudahl on the joy of football: “Being with your friends and flying around and hitting people. I like running around hitting people.”
Brock Osweiler (Sr., Flathead) – 6 feet 8, 235 pounds: First-team all-state quarterback, Gatorade Montana Football Player of the Year, holds multiple school records
Bryce Stacy (Sr., Flathead) – 5 feet 10, 170 pounds: Second-team all-state safety and honorable mention all-state running back
Travis Andrus (Sr., Flathead) – 6 feet, 175 pounds: Second-team all-state receiver
Paul Streich (Sr., Flathead) – 6 feet 2, 215 pounds: First-team all-state offensive tackle
Taylor Graham (Sr., Glacier) – 6 feet 1, 175 pounds: First-team all-conference receiver
George Werk (Jr., Glacier) – 5 feet 11, 165 pounds: second-team all-conference defensive back
Tyler Lincoln (Sr., Glacier) – 5 feet 10, 160 pounds: First-team all-conference receiver
Garrett Conners (Jr., Glacier) – 6 feet 1, 205 pounds: Second-team all-conference linebacker
Stephen Baumgartner (Jr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet, 180 pounds: All-state running back and first-team all-conference linebacker
Dustin Beck (Sr., Whitefish) – 5 feet 11, 190 pounds: All-state offensive guard and second-team all-conference inside linebacker
Kelly Houle (Jr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet, 205 pounds: All-state defensive end and first-team all-conference offensive guard
Nathan Woods (Sr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet 5, 250 pounds: All-state offensive tackle
Dylan Dryden (Sr., Whitefish) – 6 feet 2, 210 pounds: All-state defensive tackle
Quenton Hegel (Sr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet 165 pounds: All-state cornerback
Carson Sneed (Jr., Bigfork) – 5 feet 7, 170 pounds: First-team all-conference kick return specialist
Mike Macijunas (Jr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet 1, 228 pounds: First-team all-conference nose guard
Kodie Kenfield (Sr., Columbia Falls) – 6 feet 2, 215 pounds: First-team all-conference defensive end
Josh Backer (Sr., Whitefish) – 6 feet, 190 pounds: First-team all-conference defensive end
Kayla Smart (Sr., Glacier, Libero): Playing the highly specialized position of libero, Smart led the Lady Wolfpack to the state tournament in only their second season of existence. Smart, the team captain, was honored with first-team all-state. Last year she was second-team all-state. Smart led the state in digs this season by a wide margin. She also plays basketball. Smart hopes to play volleyball in college.
Smart on what makes volleyball special: “Volleyball is such a team sport. It’s different than basketball and other sports – it’s more team than individual.”
Lindsea Vaudt (Sr., Glacier): First-team all-state
Megan Olszewski (Sr., Flathead): Second-team all-state
Hana Burton (Sr., Flathead) Honorable mention all-state
Rachel Cutler (So., Glacier): Second-team all-conference
Emilee Hashley (Sr., Glacier): Second-team all-conference
Chaela Liss (Sr., Flathead): Honorable mention all-conference
Laurie Swindall (Sr., Flathead): Honorable mention all-conference
Roxy Thurman (Sr., Bigfork, Hitter): Don’t be fooled by her bubbly personality – she’s all business when she’s on the court. Thurman was named all-state to cap off an impressive senior season in which she finished third in Northwestern A in kills and was the Valkyries’ vocal leader on and off the court. She plans to play either college volleyball or basketball. She is also a tennis standout.
Thurman’s advice for younger players: “Go into every game having fun and never get down on yourself.”
Shannon Kalbfleisch (Sr., Whitefish): First-team all-conference
Alyssa Ladenburg (Sr., Columbia Falls): First-team all-conference
McCara Cullen (Sr., Whitefish): Second-team all-conference
Amanda Milliard (Sr., Columbia Falls): Second-team all-conference
Mallery Knoll (So., Bigfork): Honorable mention all-conference
Rachael Luckow (Sr., Bigfork): Honorable mention all-conference
Cedar Smith (Sr., Columbia Falls): Honorable mention all-conference
Larry Iverson III (Sr., Glacier): Iverson is one of the most dominant golfers Class AA has ever seen. The 6-foot-4 senior won the state championship by five strokes. His junior year he won by eight strokes. He started golfing when he was 2 years old. His personal low for an 18-hole round is 64 and for nine holes is an amazing 27. He will golf at the University of Washington and hopes to make the PGA tour.
Iverson on chasing dreams: “Never give up, never back down. Anything’s possible.”
Justin Newton (Jr., Glacier): 153 at state, tied for 10th place
Graham Schmaltz (Jr., Glacier): 153 at state, tied for 10th place
Trey Griffith (So., Glacier): 156 at state
Aaron Young (Sr., Glacier): 159 at state
Karli Aurich (Jr., Glacier): 162 at state, sixth place
Elsie Sutterfield (Jr., Glacier): 192 at state
Kaylee Archer (Jr., Glacier): 199 at state
Sarah Cunningham (Sr., Flathead): 190 at state
BreAnna Cameron (Jr., Whitefish): Cameron’s father used to tote her along when he went golfing. So golf came natural, first as a hobby and later as a member of the high school team. She placed ninth at state her freshman year, then eighth as a sophomore. This season, she finished the Class A tournament in a four-way tie for second-place. If she continues this trend of annual improvement, she knows what awaits her next year: a state championship.
Cameron recalling her early golf days: “I just knew that I really loved it the first time I went out there.”
Reed Platke (Fr., Whitefish): 152 at state, second place
Daniel Markus (Sr., Whitefish): 157 at state, tied for fourth place
Joel Malloms (Jr., Whitefish): 157 at state, tied for fourth place
Ryan Zalucky (Jr., Whitefish): 162 at state, eighth place
Kiley McConnell (Sr., Whitefish): 176 at state, eighth place
Quinn Micklewright (Sr., Whitefish): 181 at state, 11th place
Sara Keenan (Fr., Bigfork): 186 at state, 17th place
Danielle McCully (So., Whitefish) 197 at state
Cameron Clevidence (Sr., Flathead, Forward): Clevidence began playing soccer shortly before high school, but by his senior year he had become one of the best forwards in the state. He finished second in Class AA with 10 goals en route to an all-state selection. Clevidence would like to play soccer in college and, as he proved with his rapid improvement throughout high school, he has the work ethic necessary for the next level.
Clevidence’s philosophy on work ethic: “It’s not what you do when everybody’s watching. It’s the time you put in when you’re alone.”
Maddey Frey (Jr., Glacier, Forward): Frey is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, forward in the state. And she still has another year left. Frey was named Western AA girls soccer player of the year, as well as all-state for the second year in a row. At only 5 feet 3, she has an innate scoring ability. She led the state in goals with 17. Frey, who also plays basketball, hopes to play soccer in college.
Frey on the beauty of soccer: “It’s just the movement of the game. There’s no set plays. When I play soccer I feel so much more athletic – you’re always moving.”
Jerrad Merrill (Sr., Flathead): Class AA all-state, three goals, two assists
Jared Rice (Sr. Glacier): Class AA all-state, five goals, two assists
Josh Neiman (Sr., Glacier): Six goals, two assists
Evan McLellan (Sr., Glacier): Two goals, five assists
Heidi Windauer (Sr., Flathead): Class AA all-state, eight goals, three assists
Kassi Hebert (Jr., Flathead): Five goals, two assists
Chelsea Shuman (So., Flathead): Four goals, three assists
Sidney Sharaf (Jr., Glacier): Three goals, three assists
Felix Hermsdorf (Sr., Whitefish): 14 goals, four assists
Chase Jackson (Sr., Columbia Falls): 14 goals, one assist
McKinley Adams (So., Whitefish): 11 goals, four assists
Travis Adams (Jr., Whitefish): Eight goals, four assists
Philip Hermanni (Sr., Bigfork) Six goals, one assist
Caitlin Charlebois (So., Bigfork): 19 goals, second in the state, four assists
Carly Lengstorf (Sr., Whitefish): 10 goals, four assists
Quinci Paine (So., Bigfork): Eight goals, four assists
Meagan Powell (Sr., Whitefish): Seven goals, two assists
Kelsey McCluskey (Sr., Whitefish): Five goals, six assists
Heather Fraley (So., Glacier): Fraley finished far ahead of the rest of Northwest Montana’s Class AA runners at this year’s state tournament, finishing in eighth place overall with a time of 18:46. As a freshman, she was sixth at state. Fraley said long-distance running prepares her body to take on the rigors of her other favorite activities: hiking, fishing and hunting. Her personal best time in a three-mile cross country race is 18:16. Fraley also runs track in the spring.
Fraley on the rewards of long-distance running: “It’s really the challenge part of it – being in shape and feeling like you can take on anything.”
Leif Castren (Jr., Flathead): 16:07 at state, fourth place
Mark Fallon (Sr., Glacier): 16:44 at state, 20th place
Dan Howell (Sr., Glacier): 16:45 at state, 21st place
Andy Wilson (Jr., Flathead): 16:49 at state, 23rd place
Dan Burfeind (Sr., Glacier): 17:00 at state, 36th place
Byrne Rose (So., Flathead): 19:51 at state, 22nd place
Hannah Macfarlane (Fr., Flathead): 20:16 at state, 29th place
Rachael Hart (So., Glacier) 20:18 at state, 31st place
Kathleen Barth (Jr., Flathead): 20:30 at state, 35th place
Makayla Mitchell (Jr., Glacier): 20:40 at state, 42nd place
Drew Coco (Sr., Whitefish): Coco had as dominant of a cross country season as you’ll ever see. He didn’t lose once and was rarely even pushed, winning most of his races by a minute or more en route to the Class A state championship. His personal best time is 15 minutes flat. Coco has a great work ethic, which he demonstrated over the winter of his junior year when he ran more than 1,000 miles. Also a track star, he plans to run long distance in college and has garnered interested from Division I schools.
Coco on the rush of winning a race: “When you run cross country and you win, it’s a different kind of high. There’s no teammates – it’s all you, really.”
Shawn Whitman (Jr., Columbia Falls): 16:18 at state, fourth place
Patric Jessat (Jr., Columbia Falls): 16:31 at state, ninth place
Justin Whitman (Fr., Columbia Falls): 17:23 at state, 30th place
Tripp Gimbel (Sr., Columbia Falls): 17:33 at state, 37th place
Bridger Mahlum (Jr., Bigfork) 17:34 at state, 38th place
Jackie Cassidy (So., Whitefish): 18:53 at state, second place
Loni Hanson (Jr., Whitefish): 19:13 at state, fifth place
Kayla Carlson (Jr., Bigfork): 19:24 at state, sixth place
Stella Holt (So., Whitefish): 19:27 at state, eighth place
Jessica Sagen (So., Whitefish): 19:47 at state, 13th place
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