High school football at the Class A, Class B, Class C 8-man and Class C 6-man levels have been in action for about a month around the state of Montana.
Class AA opened up action last week. A variety of players committed to Montana State and Montana along with a slew of other hopeful college football prospects continue to have opportunities to prove themselves.
Montana currently has seven known verbal commitments for the Class of 2021, including four from the state of Montana. Throughout the season, Skyline Sports will provide updates on the top prospects in the Treasure State.
General overview of in-state recruiting, Tootell and Nuanez:
Griz verbal commits from Montana for Class of 2021
Jace Klucewich, Missoula Sentinel, athlete —
Entering his senior year, Klucewich has spent his first three seasons of high school football ripping up Class A for the Frenchtown Broncs. In 32 games at Frenchtown, Klucewich scored a staggering 60 career touchdowns, rushed for 29 of those scores, caught 24 more touchdowns and had seven returns for touchdowns as well.
Over the last year or so, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound wide receiver, running back and strong safety has seen his recruiting stock skyrocket. As a sophomore in track and field, Klucewich placed at the state meet in the 100 meters and 200 meters; his times from the regular season in those events were the top in the state in Class A.
The summer after his junior year, Klucewich helped earn a 3-star rating after attending camps at Ohio State and Marshall. That helped him earn offers from Montana State, Air Force, Northern Arizona and Montana. He chose to follow in the footsteps of his father, Josh and his uncle, Joe, with his commitment to play at Montana.
The most recent off-season, Klucewich made the decision to transfer to Sentinel. According to a source close to the family, Klucewich had considered going to Sentinel coming out of middle school as well.
Now he’s playing for the top-ranked team in Class AA alongside a slew of Division I recruits, including fellow Griz recruits wide receiver TJ Rausch and linebacker Geno Leonard.
That level of talent — quarterbacks Camden Sirmon and Dayton Bay, offensive lineman Dylan Rollins will also all likely play at the college level — has the Spartans rolling early on.
Klucewich extended his touchdown streak to a score in 32 of his 34 career varsity starts by catching a 34-yard score in Sentinel’s 59-13 thrashing of Flathead to open the season. In a 35-0 win over Helena Capital last Friday, Klucewich had four carries for 32 yards, including touchdowns of 10 and 12 yards as the Spartans smothered the Bruins.
KLUCEWICH ON TOOTELL AND NUANEZ
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 22: The Spartans have been rolling opponents so decisively, Klucewich has received limited offensive touches. According to MaxPreps, he has 11 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns while hauling in 17 catches for 282 yards and three more scores. Sentinel is 6-0 heading into its season finale at No. 5 Kalispell Glacier.
Kellen Detrick, Havre, defensive end/outside linebacker —
Detrick’s father, Kino Detrick, was a standout defensive lineman at Montana State-Northern in Havre before serving as a graduate assistant for the Lights. A life in football has rubbed off on the younger Detrick, making him one of the top football prospects in the state and one of the top prospects to come from Montana’s Hi-Line in quite some time.
Last season, Detrick led Havre to the Class A playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Blue Ponies advanced to the semifinals of the playoffs for the first time in that same time span when quarterback Dane Warp was rewriting the record books on the Hi-Line.
After totaling 314 yards and five total touchdowns offensively to go with 53 tackles, nine tackles for loss and five sacks defensively, Detrick’s stock rose to make him a 3-star recruit. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder fielded offers from Montana State, Air Force, Northern Arizona and Montana before choosing the Grizzlies.
The Eastern A elected to not play non-conference games, so the Blue Ponies and their counterparts did not start until two weeks after some of the teams in the Western A. Havre is off to a tough start so far, dropping their first two games. The Blue Ponies fell 42-0 to Laurel, a team that finished second in Class A a year ago. Last week, Havre fell 32-14 to Glendive. No official stats for Detrick are currently available.
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 22: Havre’s lone win this season came in a 26-14 triumph over Hardin two weeks ago. The Blue Ponies fell 37-14 earlier this week to finish their season 1-5.
DETRICK ON TOOTELL AND NUANEZ, ESPN RADIO:
Geno Leonard, Missoula Sentinel, linebacker —
Leonard is a throwback, an undersized yet impressively aggressive two-way player who sets the tone for the top-ranked Spartans on both sides of the ball.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder was one of Sentinel’s leading tacklers as well as the anchor of the offensive line as the team’s center. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals of the Class AA playoffs during Leonard’s junior year. The following summer, he committed to his hometown Grizzlies.
Sentinel is off to a 2-0 start and Leonard has played a key role, particularly in spearheading a Spartan defense that pitched its first shutout of the season in a 35-0 win over Helena Capital. Leonard had four tackles, 1.5 sacks and nearly had an interception for the talented Spartans.
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 22: Sentinel has been blowing teams out at a historic level, so possessions have been limited and stats have been fleeting for the Spartans’ front-line starters. Leonard, who also anchors Sentinel’s offensive line, is (according to MaxPreps) credited for 29 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks so far this season.
LEONARD ON TOOTELL AND NUANEZ, ESPN RADIO
T.J. Rausch, Missoula Sentinel, wide receiver —
Rausch, who’s mother Ann (Lake) Rausch was an All-Big Sky Conference player for the Lady Griz in the mid-1990s, was the second of the three Spartans to verbally commit to the Griz.
He helped earn an offer from the Griz by racking up 37 receptions for 546 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games as a junior. Rausch also played cornerback, tallying 19 tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass breakup last season. Rausch’s play under head coach Dane Oliver, a former Grizzly wide receiver himself, helped propel Sentinel to the semifinals of the playoffs last season.
He chose Montana over offers from Div. II Colorado School of Mines and NAIA programs Montana Tech, Carroll College and Montana Western.
Sentinel has experienced a rare opportunity for Class AA early in the season: The Spartans have had the opportunity to manage the load of their most talented skill players.
Quarterbacks Dayton Bay, an all-conference player as a junior, and fellow senior Camden Sirmon, a transfer from Wenatchee, Washington where he was also all-conference, have split time under center. Klucewich has had limited offensive touches.
Rausch had a pick defensively against Capital while also hauling in three catches for 48 yards. He had a pair of catches against Flathead.
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 22: Rausch has caught 23 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns this season for the Spartans.