Big game—but don’t ignore the pregame

Allow me to detour from all the storylines surrounding the Boise State-Wyoming matchup tomorrow night and talk about the pregame ceremony. The late Duane Dlouhy is the honorary captain for this game. A large contingent of Dlouhy’s teammates from the 1980 Division I-AA national championship team have gathered for the occasion—after playing in the Gus Urresti Memorial Golf Tournament today. Dlouhy caught the pass that won the national title, of course, but it mattered more that these players were his best friends. Dlouhy died of Stage 4 colon cancer in June, and his peers made his final days special. They gathered with him in Reno the month before he passed, inspiring an e-mail from Dlouhy: “Everyone: it was so uplifting having you all there.”

The week before he died, several teammates joined him at Saint Alphonsus to watch the Broncos’ 1980 highlight film. Dlouhy was occasionally alert enough to point out specifics of plays from the season. Then, just days before his death, his son Dustin became certified to perform a wedding ceremony. Duane’s daughter Demi was to be married July 1. But they moved the ceremony up so that Duane could give his daughter away in marriage. He was able to say, “Her mother and I” before the small wedding party on the roof of St. Al’s. And on the day of his passing, Dlouhy received the No. 90 jersey he wore when he caught the legendary TD, signed by as many members of the team as teammate Larry Alder could find. Just some background in case you’re in the stands in time for the coin toss tomorrow night.

Boise State’s special teams have experienced a revival this season—even the one we don’t see much. The group that would welcome more of a workload is the kickoff unit, what with the Broncos’ scoring down this year. Along those lines, Kohl the Tee Dog goes into the Wyoming game a very rested canine. The last time we saw him, Kohl was jumping for doggie treats during the second half of the Virginia game. That kept him busy—I mean, until the very end, there weren’t any kickoffs requiring him to run out on the field to retrieve the tee. But when the kickoff team is on the field, it’s effective. Last week at San Diego State, three of Joel Velazquez’s kickoffs went for touchbacks, and the Aztecs were only able to return the other three an average of 16.3 yards.

It’s been a process for Jabril Frazier this season, but the junior defensive end is hitting his stride. Frazier underwent what coach Bryan Harsin said was “shoulder, ankle and knee cleanup” last winter. That dreadful trifecta is tough to bounce back from, but Frazier is showing no signs of those maladies. He led Boise State with two sacks of Christian Chapman at San Diego State last Saturday and—despite not officially starting—is effectively splitting time with Sam Whitney. For the season, Frazier has nine tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble (plus the fumble return for a touchdown that was called back by review at the end of the game against the Aztecs).

Idaho could sure use its running game tomorrow morning to keep Missouri from going all-out to stop quarterback Matt Linehan. The Vandals’ Aaron Duckworth is coming off a solid performance against Appalachian State, which features one of the best rushing defenses in the Sun Belt. Duckworth ran for 113 yards on 21 carries to notch his second 100-yard game of the season. There’s no dominant running back in the Sun Belt this season—and Duckworth, in fact, is the conference’s leading rusher with 552 yards. The last Idaho running back to lead a league in rushing was Joel Thomas in the Big West in 1996. Meanwhile, Vandals coach Paul Petrino goes into the Mizzou game with a new contract after an extension through 2022 was approved yesterday by the State Board of Education.

College of Idaho tries to climb to .500 tomorrow after an 0-3 start this season. But the Coyotes will have to earn it—they’ll be on the road at undefeated Southern Oregon, a team that beat C of I 41-25 in Caldwell in Week 3. The Yotes are looking for their third victory in a row, a streak not achieved since 1974. The Raiders boast the top defense in the Frontier Conference, with 25 sacks and a plus-seven turnover margin. C of I may have a secret weapon in Nick Calzaretta, though. The true freshman running back didn’t have a carry against SOU in September, but he’s been gaining steam of late. Calzaretta rolled for 88 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown in last week’s 59-27 rout of Montana Western.

You can warm up for tomorrow night’s Boise State-Wyoming game—literally—by going inside Bronco Gym at 6 p.m. for Bronco men’s basketball’s fifth annual Blue & Orange open scrimmage. Fans are anxious not only to check out graduate transfers Christian Sengfelder from Fordham and Lexus Williams from Valparaiso, they want to see what Casdon Jardine brings to the table. Jardine, a 6-7 swing man, is the former Twin Falls High star who led the Bruins to the 2014 state 4A title. He spent last season at College of Southern Idaho, where he averaged 10.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Tonight the Idaho Steelheads and Utah Grizzlies play the second of 15 games against each other this season. It’s still hard to fathom that the Steelheads will play exactly zero games versus the Alaska Aces, who folded at the end of last season and left a huge hole in the Anchorage winter sports landscape. Former Aces players have scattered, and one of them, goalie Kevin Carr, has landed with the Grizzlies. It was Carr who was between the pipes for the final two games in Aces franchise history last April, both of them losses to the Steelies. And he got the start for Utah Wednesday in a 3-1 loss to Idaho.

Other local pro notes: it was a decent start in unfamiliar territory yesterday for Graham DeLaet. The former Boise State star carded a two-under 70 in the first round of the CJ Cup, the first PGA Tour event ever to be played in South Korea. DeLaet is tied for 30th in the 78-player field (there’s no cut in this tournament). And there is one former Boise Hawk already in the World Series, and his name is not Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Albert Almora Jr., John Lackey or Willson Contreras. Those guys are Chicago Cubs. This guy is L.A. Dodgers lefthander Rich Hill, now in the Series after the Dodgers finished off the Cubs11-1 last night. More on Hill’s long and winding road next week.

This Day In Sports…October 20, 1917, 100 years ago today:

Washington beats Whitman College 14-6 in Seattle, stretching its unbeaten streak to 63 games, which still stands as the longest in FBS history. The streak began November 28, 1907, with a scoreless tie versus Idaho, and ended November 3, 1917, with a 27-0 loss to California. The Huskies played nine consecutive undefeated seasons, seven of which were unbeaten and untied campaigns.
Courtesy of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)