Everett Sheen has paid his dues for the Idaho Steelheads organization, serving as coach Neil Graham’s assistant the past three seasons. With Graham off to Texas of the AHL now, the Steelheads have elected to stay the successful course and promote Sheen to head coach. The 32-year-old native of Lethbridge, AB, becomes the second-youngest hire in Steelies history (Graham was the youngest) and he’s also the second-youngest active coach in the ECHL. Sheen’s speciality has been defense and the penalty kill, and last season Idaho ranked in the ECHL’s top-10 in penalty kill percentage and shots allowed per game and placed in the top-five for goals against per game. Sheen’s first goal is to take the Steelheads deep into the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The only cloud over the team has been earlier-than-desired postseason exits in recent years.
THE WORLD LOSES SOME INFECTIOUS ENERGY
Word started to circulate on Twitter Thursday that former Boise State linebacker and fullback Dan Paul had passed away. It hit his former teammates hard, as Paul was a favorite on and off the field. Memories include his three catches from Kellen Moore in a pivotal win over Nevada late in the undefeated 2009 season, with all three going for touchdowns—and Paul going bonkers each time he scored. But he mainly made his mark leading interference for guys like Jeremy Avery, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper. It was a monster block by Paul that sprung Martin into the end zone for the winning TD against TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Paul was 30 years old. He had been working for the family business, Paul Brothers Comstruction, in his hometown of Boring, OR.
PUB FOR COACH PIT (AND JOHN MOLCHON)
Veteran writer Bruce Feldman, now with The Athletic, has spotlighted “the biggest freaks in college football” around this time for about 15 years. The premise, Feldman says, is to “showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.” No 42on Feldman’s new list isBoise State left guard John Molchon. The 6-5, 317-pound fifth-year senior hang cleans 425 pounds and power cleans 365 through two reps. His vertical jump is 27.5 inches. “John is an explosive athlete that stops all activity in the room when he maxes because everybody wants to watch him,” says Broncos strength coach Jeff Pitman, one who should know. “He lifts his team’s energy level when he is in the room.”
HEARING SAM UKWUACHU’S NAME AGAIN
True freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was kicked off Boise State’s squad by Chris Petersen in 2012 before transferring to Baylor and igniting a firestorm. Now, a Texas appeals court has again overturned Ukwuachu’s 2015 sexual assault conviction involving a former Baylor women’s soccer player. Judges determined that prosecutors improperly used records from his roommate’s cell phone in his trial. The incident opened the Pandora’s Box on sexual violence at Baylor. Ukwuachu had been sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years’ felony probation and 400 hours of community service, and he had to register as a sex offender. “We respectfully disagree with the decision of the 10th Court of Appeals,” Assistant District Attorney Tom Needham said. “We are confident that the decision will be reversed.”
Boise State now knows its first-round opponent—and its bracket—in this year’s Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu over Christmas. The Broncos meet Georgia Tech for the first time to open the tournament on December 22 in an ESPNU game at Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center. The winner advances to the semifinals against either Houston or Portland. In the opposite bracket are Ball State, Hawaii, UTEP and Washington. This will be a very different-looking Bronco squad. It’ll be interesting to see how far along the team is at that point. Oregon transfer Abu Kigab will be eligible by then. If Boise State can replicate its last performance in the Diamond Head Classic in 2013, it’ll be exciting. The Broncos routed South Carolina and advanced to the championship game, falling to 14th-ranked Iowa State, 70-66.
Troy Merritt began last week with an average round and turned it into a top 10 finish over the weekend at the 3M Open. On Thursday, the Boise State grad started with a below-average round, and it’s going to take a miracle to recover enough to make the cut at the John Deere Classic. Merritt carded a two-over 73 and is tied for 134th. And at Memorial Stadium Thursday night, Hillsboro plated three runs in the top of the second inning, and they held up in a 3-1 win over the Boise Hawks. The Hawks have now lost four of their past five games to drop below .500 at 13-14.
TAKING IT TO THE DOWNTOWN STREETS
After the 33rdannual Twlight Criterium takes over Downtown Boise Saturday night, a quirky companion event will ride around and out of town on Sunday. It’s called the Gran Fondo Hincapie. Boise is the fourth city added to the series, which is kind of a cycling festival, “with catered rest stops and epic routes.” The inaugural Boise event will feature courses of 15, 50 and 80 miles, and riders will include Boise’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong—and Lance Armstrong. Yes, that Lance Armstrong.
The ninth annual Famous Idaho Potato Bowl High School 7-on-7 Tournament gets underway later today at the Optimist Football Complex. It’s summer bonding for the best prep programs in the state, and the matchups are fast-paced and intense. All the top teams in the Treasure Valley are entered, including reigning 5A state champion Rocky Mountain, Mountain View, and all five Boise schools, along with top programs from Eastern Idaho, including Highland and Madison.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
July 12, 1979, 40 years ago today: It’s “Disco Demolition Night” at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Fans got in for 98 cents if they brought a disco record to burn between games of a doubleheader between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Comiskey had been drawing only 15,000 fans per game that season, but more than 50,000 turned up to see the spectacle that evening. A crate of disco records was blown up, damaging the playing surface—and when fans rushed the field and refused to leave after the bonfire, the second game of the twin bill was forfeited to the Tigers.
(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.)