WALLACE — For better or for worse, the two most easterly schools in the Silver Valley met for a football game last Friday evening.
It had been seven years since the Mullan Tigers and Wallace Miners had battled it out on the gridiron, the Miners won that game 68-22.
Both schools went their separate ways following that season with the Miners moving to 1A DI ranks, while Mullan stayed in the North Star League.
While Wallace spent seasons playing in the uber tough Whitepine League, Mullan went through a renaissance of sorts, losing their program for a year, playing a season of six-man football, and then finally entering a cooperative agreement with out-of-state school St. Regis to make sure both schools could field one team to compete in the shrinking North Star League.
But despite all of that adversity, Mullan continued to improve.
Wallace on the other hand, saw middling success for a season in the WPL, but has struggled the last few years as turnout for the football team has dwindled.
On Friday night, these two teams met for the first time in seven years.
And it was all Mullan.
A 74-0 blowout of your closest neighbors might not seem like something to make a big deal of, but these co-oping Tigers are giving local football fans something to cheer for that has only been experienced in Shoshone County in small doses over the last decade.
The belief that a state championship could be well on the way.
Friday night the Miners got a front-row look at these Tigers — who they will play again — and what they are all about.
Whether it was the blistering speed of Skye Gallaway, the lockdown defense of Ian Farris, or Mullan’s collection of bruising talent — both young and old — it was a total domination that left everyone at Sather Field wanting to see more of these Tigers.
“Oh man, what a heck of a job by all 15 of our guys tonight,” Mullan head coach Stetson Spooner said. “From staying disciplined and doing their job, to executing our game plan. We had a lot of scoring distribution from our starters and great growth gaining solid minutes and playing time for our younger guys for a lot of the game.”
The Tigers consist of 10 kids from Mullan and five from St. Regis, but the two towns have nearly seamlessly blended together to form one Tiger hyped community.
It can be tough to maintain in a game like this, from a sportsmanship and class standpoint, but Spooner won’t accept anything less than perfection when it comes to those categories.
“We felt that sportsmanship on both teams with the fans, players, coaches and all the staff was amazing,” Spooner said. “In games like those, sometimes it can be hard to keep things like sportsmanship and class in check, but we feel that it did just that.”
Spooner can never help but gush about his team, and once again he did just that following his team’s second consecutive dominant performance.
“Our freshman quarterback Caleb Ball showed a lot of poise again leading our offense,” Spooner said. “Gallaway and Farris continue to explode on nearly every touch. Meanwhile Adam Ball and Luke Trogden continue to be our work horses and make teams aware of them whether it’s on offense or defense. Riley Trogden is probably our most consistent player. He is a luxury on both sides of the ball and special teams knowing that he will execute every play from whistle to whistle.”
It was 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and it became wildly apparent that Mullan was in the driver’s seat as many had expected, but Spooner is a big believer in effort and he credited the Miners for not throwing in the towel after falling behind early and even thought they had some strengths that needed complimenting.
“Kudos to the Miners for continuing to be aggressive and sticking together,” Spooner said. “To be honest up front in the trenches, our staff thought Wallace has great push and presence maintaining inside gaps.”
Wallace coach Jared Young was thoughtful as he discussed his team and their performance on Friday night.
“We are rebuilding our team and have had to move a few players around to field eight spots on offense, especially, so we are very young and still evolving as a team,” Young said. “We had a lot of mistakes, but this week we did do a much better job engaging with our blocks and fighting and competing, and for that I really liked what I saw out of our team. We moved the ball a little better this week and with the injuries and player movement it was good to see us start to move the ball this week, we have a long way to go and a lot of weight room visits. We are building for now as well as the future for Miner football. We look to build on what we did well this week and continue to improve and compete versus Clark Fork this week."
Mullan and Wallace will square off again on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 3 p.m. at John Drager Field in Mullan.
Mullan will be playing a quasi-home game this week when they host Victor, Mont., at St. Regis High School at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Wallace will be on the road to take on Clark Fork at 7 p.m. Thursday.