RUPERT — Since the late 1960s, there have been two eras of Minico football: the tough years and the Tim Perrigot years.
Perrigot, a man with no ties to Idaho before his arrival, sparked a resurgence of Minico football. Before he took over as head coach in 1996, the Spartans were a statewide pushover. The program had not won a conference championship since 1968, and had not had as much as a winning season in more than a decade.
When he took the job, he expected to stay only one year in Rupert. Twenty-two seasons later, he’s brought the school nine conference titles, two state semifinals, and last season, its first state championship appearance.
Along the way, Perrigot laid a blueprint for how to turn around a losing program. But it did not come without plenty of tough luck, losing seasons and close calls along the way.
The Early Years
The first step sounded easy enough: just win some games.
Not a playoff berth. Not a conference championship. Just a few games.
Between 1968 and Perrigot’s arrival as an assistant coach in 1992, the Spartans had a couple of 6-4 seasons in 1972 and 1981, but that was it for winning seasons. No team had contended for rankings, accolades or postseason appearances.
Landon Barnes, a future player for Perrigot, said his dad, who began coaching at Minico in the 1980s, summarized the time bleakly.
“He said people wanted to schedule us for homecoming, because we were an easy win,” Landon Barnes said.
Two decades before Perrigot’s arrival, the Spartans won exactly zero games between September 1988 and September 1991.
The 28-game losing streak is still one of the longest in Idaho prep football history, and warranted the attention of Sports Illustrated, according to Perrigot.
“They came to write a story,” he said, “and it just so happened we beat Burley to stop the streak right around that time.”
After four years as an assistant, Perrigot took over as head coach in 1996. For the first few years, things didn’t get drastically better. The 1997 and 2000 Minico teams sniffed winning records, both finishing 4-5, but the Spartans could not turn the corner.
“We weren’t getting blown out,” he said. “We just couldn’t find a way to win tight games.”
Perrigot started to rethink what defined team success. He borrowed the approach often used for personal improvement: set small goals, and accomplish them first.
Win the first game of the season.
Then, beat Burley in the Mini-Cassia rivalry game.
Then, beat a 5A team.
By 2001, Minico had accomplished all of them, and even added a winning season to its resume, its first in two decades. The Spartans also beat Twin Falls in 2001 for the first time in 15 years.
The foundation for success had been laid.
Knocking at the Door
Minico’s football program built confidence during the early 2000s, but it would take a few years and a few external changes before it could eye a conference championship.
First, Minico dropped from 5A to the smaller 4A classification in 2004.
“That was a big boost,” said Dane Broadhead, the starting quarterback for Minico from 2004 to 2007. “We were a good team, don’t get me wrong, but we just didn’t have the kids and numbers to compete with the Boise schools.”
But more importantly, Broadhead said, his class was the first to play organized small-fry football, a feeder organization similar to Little League baseball. Broadhead’s father, Glen, and Perrigot coached the teams.
“Before then, the kids would play flag football through 7th grade,” Broadhead said. “To me, that’s too late for kids to start playing tackle football.”
In 2005, with one year of varsity experience and plenty of organized football under his belt, Broadhead led Minico to its first conference championship in 37 years.
Then another one. And another one.
“It’s something we still weren’t used to, the fact that Minico football (was) winning all these games and championships,” Perrigot said. “We hadn’t had any of that type of success before. We were just eating it up.”
In 2007, with the inaugural Minico small-fry class in its senior year of high school, Minico took a leap. It knocked off defending state champion Pocatello in the season opener on a last-second play. Two games later, it blew out 4A Boise powerhouse Bishop Kelly 34-7 en route to an undefeated regular season.
Skyler “Poke” Morgan, a running back from 2005-2008, even said after the Bishop Kelly game, “I think we’re on our way to a state championship.”
Unfortunately, the “state championship,” according to Perrigot and some of his 2007 players, came in the quarterfinals. After cruising past Rigby in the first round, Minico had to face Blackfoot, pitting the state’s No. 1 team against the No. 2 team.
Blackfoot was packed with talent, including Josh Hill, currently a tight end with the New Orleans Saints, and J.C. Percy, a Boise State linebacker during the Broncos’ undefeated 2009 season.
“I think Perrigot felt like if we make it through Blackfoot, we’re getting a state title,” Barnes said. “We weren’t going to see anyone else like that.”
The game was tight throughout. Minico thought it had taken a late two-score lead when Morgan sprinted 80 yards down the field with only a few minutes remaining, but the touchdown was called back for holding.
“I still think it was a bad call to this day,” Morgan said.
On the next play, Broadhead was intercepted, setting up Blackfoot for the game-winning touchdown.
Minico lost the quarterfinal 34-31.
The One That Got Away
One year later, Minico was back in the playoffs. After wins over Rigby and Middleton, the Spartans waltzed into the 4A semifinals for a matchup with conference foe Jerome.
Minico had already beaten Jerome by two touchdowns earlier in the year to claim its fourth straight conference championship. The rematch, played at Minico, “could have been the largest 4A semifinal in the state,” according to IDHSAA Executive Director Ty Jones. It was dubbed “The Ruckus in Rupert” by the Times News.
“We had a lot for our Skyview game (in the 2017 state championship), but it wasn’t anywhere near that game,” Perrigot said. “There were just rows of people standing behind the fence, trying to look over somebody’s shoulder to watch the game.”
“There were people looking off the road over on 300 West,” said Byron Pinther, a wide receiver and safety for Minico. “There were people near the railroad tracks over near the long jump area.”
Jerome’s star quarterback, Jake Lammers missed the game with a broken arm, leaving backup Cameron Stauffer, a running-back-turned-quarterback, to man the Tiger offense.
“We hadn’t really prepared for that kid because we didn’t see him in the regular season,” Perrigot. “So we had no idea he could scramble the way he did.”
When Minico pressured the pocket, Stauffer rolled left and right, buying time for a pass or whittling away first-down yardage with his feet. He didn’t overpower Minico – in fact, Perrigot said he felt like the Spartans had “dominated the game” until the final minutes – but he kept the Tigers within striking distance.
Decision time came in the form of a 4th and goal from the two-yard line for Minico, up 38-35 with about three minutes left in the game. The Spartans could effectively end the game with a touchdown.
They decided to rush with Morgan, and Jerome’s defense stuffed him short of the goal line.
Stauffer, a first-time starter for Jerome, methodically led the Tigers down the field, wringing the clock dry before completing a medium-distance Hail Mary pass for the win.
It’s one that Perrigot will never forget.
“Stauffer avoided a sack – he was so elusive – and he dipped under our defensive end, rolled to the right and threw the ball to the corner of the end zone,” Perrigot recalled. “Two of our kids ran into each other and their kid caught the ball in the end zone with basically no time left.”
Pinther remembers an extra component to the play.
“The DB had bumped him out of bounds and he came back into the field of play,” he said, “but the refs didn’t see it. Your heart sinks real quick because you’re thinking, ‘Did that really just happen?’”
The undefeated season came to an end with orange and white storming the red and gold field.
“It still hits me,” said Barnes, who had 10 receptions and 147 yards in the game. “I became really good friends with most of that Jerome team. But I felt like it was ours.”
Breaking the Curse
If you ask Minico players past and present, that game placed a supernatural shroud on the program, referenced as the “2008 curse.”
For the next eight years, the Spartans would have continued success in the regular season, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Some were close games: a 27-23 loss to Blackfoot in 2016 and a 27-20 loss to Hillcrest in 2011. Some were blowouts: a 76-27 loss to Idaho Falls in 2013 and 46-0 loss to Hillcrest in 2009. But the end result was the same.
“I’m just sitting there thinking, ‘Man, are we ever going to get that chance again? Are we ever going to get that close to a state championship?’” Perrigot said.
Then came the 2017 season.
Perrigot’s son, John, earned the starting quarterback role. A pair of running backs, 4A player of the year Larry Vega, and Colter May, brother of two former Minico standouts, led a dominant Spartan rushing attack, and powerful fullback Tim Miller made goal line conversions a foregone conclusion.
They started the year 2-2, with losses to Grantsville (Utah) and 5A Rigby, a couple of tough opponents, which Perrigot likes to schedule early each season. But the Spartans bounced back to finish the regular season on a five-game winning streak.
In the first round of the playoffs, Minico rode their defense to a win over Century, the second time in two months it had beaten the Diamondbacks.
“I was scared to death of because we were playing them again, just like we had in 2008 with Jerome,” he said. “I had some flashbacks before that Century game.”
The 2008 curse, as referred to by players, was over. But this group wasn’t quite satisfied yet.
“We were always living underneath the 2008 team,” John Perrigot said. “We had a team get-together around that time to pump ourselves up. Tim Miller got up there and said he doesn’t want to be like the 2008 team. We don’t want it to end that way. We want to go all the way.”
Minico’s semifinal game was in Rupert, a product of winning the Great Basin Conference. Still, the Spartans were slated to take on undefeated Skyview, which had been ranked No. 1 in the 4A media poll every week except one. Minico had entered the rankings for the first time at No. 5 the week prior.
The Spartans were heavy underdogs. But breaking a curse apparently comes with a healthy dose of what some would call irrational confidence, and in sports, that’s not always a bad thing.
“All week, I just kind of had a good feeling,” said Keelan McCaffrey, special teams coach and Minico football alumnus. “I didn’t know what it was, but I thought we would be alright.”
Skyview nearly doubled the Spartans’ total yards on the night, but not without committing two turnovers on special teams, both leading to Minico touchdowns on opposite sides of halftime.
Minico trailed by seven points with less than three minutes to play in the semifinal game. The Spartans needed a spark. When Perrigot called a timeout during his team’s last-ditch drive, an old, familiar sound echoed through the stadium.
A train horn from the railroad tracks just a hundred feet away blared over the music and crowd noise.
“Twenty-two years of having that train go by in practice, then having it go by in that moment,” Tim Perrigot said. “Everything felt right. It was meant to happen.”
Miller, the goal line specialist, eventually punched in a two-yard run to bring Minico within one point. But now what? Should the Spartans kick the extra point to tie it, or go for two to win the game? For Perrigot, that was never a real question.
“We’d been holding them at bay for about as long as we could,” he said on the Magic Valley Sports Podcast in November. “I think if the game had gone another quarter, they probably would have put some points up.”
The play had been saved all season long. The Spartans loaded the backfield, handed it off one way, then returned the ball to Miller sneaking across, headed to the off-side tackle. He strutted in for the score, giving Minico the one-point lead and a berth in the 4A state championship game.
After the celebration ended and the euphoria subsided, Perrigot began the drive home, like any other Friday night. But on the way, he stopped by the Sinclair/A&W in Rupert and parked beside the train tracks. He was alone in the back of his truck, but could not contain his joy. First a smile, then full-fledged laughter.
“I mean if someone pulled up next to me, they would have thought I was on drugs,” he said. “I was just laughing and screaming to myself, ‘We went for two and beat Skyview, the number one team in the state!’”
One week later, Minico lost the state championship game 40-14 to Skyline. But for Perrigot, that game was just a footnote to a larger story, a story of a program that was looking for just one win in the 1990s. Now they were the pride of Rupert.
“Can you imagine?” he said. “From 1972 to 2000, they’d only had two winning seasons, and then we do this. That’s why when we went to the state championship, you see all those people there. Even after the game, around town today, we still get that message: ‘Your boys did us awfully proud. You did it. You went to the state finals.’”
Connecting the Dots
Perrigot has his own reasons for how Minico went from a decades-long pushover to a title contender. Just don’t ask him about his role in that transformation.
He agrees with Broadhead that the development of small-fry football was crucial, saying that the kids on past teams couldn’t compare to Boise teams that had been playing since 5th grade or earlier.
“We were getting football players at Minico who first played football in 8th grade,” he said. “I mean, they had to learn how to put their helmets on.”
He also got a boost in 2001, when the high school shifted from 10th-12th grades to 9th-12th grades, a minor change that gave players an extra year to grow within the program.
Finally, Perrigot credits a long-tenured coaching staff at Minico for sticking with him and making the program more stable. More than half of his current assistants have been on staff for longer than a decade.
But his current and former players think the head coach deserves plenty of credit for what the program has become, especially for his willingness to scrap schemes from one year to the next, depending on personnel.
Morgan’s sophomore year, he said the team was more spread out and relied heavily on throwing the ball. His junior year, they went to a pistol formation, then his senior year, they went back to the I-formation. When he graduated, the team then went to a triple wing offense.
“He realizes what he’s surrounded with, and he adapts,” Morgan said.
But even more than his knowledge of the game, players cite Perrigot’s understanding of people and relationships.
As a principal at West Minico and a small-fry coach, Perrigot meets a new class of elementary and middle school students each year. McCaffrey said Perrigot stands out in the end zone during the East Minico versus West Minico middle school flag football game and talks with the kids.
“He knows everyone’s name,” McCaffrey said. “He calls your name and you’re like, ‘Wow, coach knows who I am.’ Even now, he’s always watching and he knows those kids.”
“That’s who your team’s going to be, and it happens faster than you think,” Perrigot said. “I don’t think you realize that until you have kids of your own. Time goes pretty quickly, so you better take advantage of getting to know these kids.”
Perrigot is also a master motivator, though it doesn’t take screaming to get his team amped up. Broadhead recalls one such instance in the summer leading up to the 2007 season.
“We’d be in the weight room, and he’d pop in and just say, ‘Pocatello, Burley, BK’ and then walk out,” he said, referencing a few of the teams that would inevitably stand between the team and its goals for the coming year. “And we’d work harder. (Perrigot) knew without yelling at us or having to be lovey-dovey how to get us ready for a game.”
Still, without hesitation, Perrigot credits his players’ hearts more than his own for reaching the state title game last season.
“I’ve coached for 22 years here, and there’s something special that happened in the locker room with these kids, that I’m not sure I can explain,” he said. “All I know is they love each other with all their hearts. I know that kind of sounds cheesy, but it’s a special love for one another that you can preach as a coach and tell them how important it is, but they really have to care about each other.”
Perrigot sees no reason to give up his spot atop the football program, but eventually, he said his “ultimate goal” is to become a superintendent. He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Idaho in 2012.
But for now, he said he’s going to cherish coaching the Spartans, a job that he calls “the best story ever.”
“It really is,” he said. “You just can’t make this stuff up. This is the greatest place in the world to coach football.”
BOISE — An woman shot by law enforcement near Gooding on Tuesday afternoon has died from her injuries, authorities said Wednesday.
Gooding police and sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call near 1900 S. 2200 E. shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, where they found a woman armed with a rifle standing in the road.
After talking with the woman for several minutes, officers fired their weapons, injuring the woman. She was taken to North Canyon Medical Center, then transferred to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. No officers were injured.
The woman died Wednesday about 5 a.m., according to authorities.
To avoid a conflict of interest, the incident is under investigation by the Twin Falls City Police Department.
SHOSHONE — The family of a 13-year-old girl who reported being raped by an older classmate in a Shoshone school computer lab in April has filed a federal lawsuit against the Shoshone School District.
Federal court documents say the girl and her mother were told she could not stay at the school following what was described as a violent rape by a prominent student athlete.
Court documents show the boy, a high school junior, pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony lewd conduct in juvenile court.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 27 in U.S. District Court, alleges the school district had a “deliberate indifferent response,” failed to appropriately investigate and respond, and subjected the victim to a “hostile environment and sexual discrimination that denied her an education in the District.”
Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite said Friday he has been encouraged to limit comments on pending litigation. But he said he urges people to understand the allegations that the school failed to investigate are “just a one-sided story.”
The school district is working with legal counsel to file a formal response by Feb. 1 that will be “vigorous and detailed,” Waite said. Then, he said, both sides of the story will be available.
The girl, who is now 14, lives in Gooding and is attending high school in the Gooding School District, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleges the girl was denied equal protection until Title IX and that the school district retaliated against her.
On or around April 26, school district employees and administrators viewed a videotape of the incident, and notified the victim’s mother and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which came to the school to start an investigation, according to court documents.
A deputy determined the case to be “lewd and lascivious conduct by a seventeen (17) year old male.”
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office took the boy into custody and he was transported to the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center.
Following a Sheriff’s investigation, the boy was charged as a juvenile and plead guilty on or around Nov. 17 to multiple felony charges of lewd conduct with a child under 16.
Court documents state “on information and belief,” the boy “was not incarcerated other than a short period of home detention.”
E. Lee Schlender of Mountain Home, the attorney for the girl’s family, said Friday he has been in touch with the Shoshone School District’s insurance carrier.
He said he hopes “that we can get this resolved as quickly as possible.”
“The mother and the children are destitute,” he said. “She had to move them from Shoshone over to Gooding, get an apartment, get them enrolled in school over there and has no money.”
The school district has asked for another two or three weeks to formally respond to the complaint, Schlender said.
In the meantime, he said, he has been trying to help the girl’s mother find house cleaning jobs.
Schlender said they’re a very strong family, and the mother has dedicated her life to her children and doing everything possible to take care of them.
“She’s very pleased with how everyone in Gooding has treated her,” he said. “She says the school has been fantastic.”
The victim is undergoing continued medical treatment, Schlender said, and has been “shocked and traumatized deeply by this.”
He said she was victimized once by being raped twice at the school and again by being told she had to leave the school.
Court records say the girl was a student at Shoshone Middle School at the time of the incident. The 17-year-old boy, who was “a prominent athlete at the school,” violently and forcibly had sex with the girl without her consent on April 24 and 25 in an unlocked Shoshone High School computer lab.
The lab was unsupervised and could be locked from the inside, requiring a key to enter from the outside. “The room was unlighted and the door locked automatically after entry,” court records say.
The school district’s surveillance and monitoring system covers the computer lab, and recorded the alleged rape and other actions, such as the boy and girl “carefully walking past the offices of the Principal/Superintendent, closely together and alone while all other students were in classrooms.”
On or about the time of April 24 and 25, a school administrator unlocked the computer lab, and found the girl and boy inside. The boy told her they were watching a movie on a laptop computer.
The administrator “performed no investigation or questioning, other than directing that they leave the room,” the records say.
The lawsuit says school district officials became aware of the incident around April 23-26, 2017.
From the time of the sexual assault and afterward, records say the victim “was harassed and frightened.” Following the investigation, the school district allowed the boy to continue attending Shoshone High School with a one-day suspension.
The boy’s father is a coach, and the family has been in Shoshone for more than 30 years and “had cultivated professional and personal relationships with school faculty, trustees and administrative personnel,” records say.
Within 10 days following the incident, the school administrator held a meeting with the girl and her mother and presented two options for schooling, the lawsuit says: stop attending Shoshone schools “with no further remedial action of any kind” or being homeschooled, with the school providing homework assignments weekly.
The girl and her mother decided on the homeschooling option, but say they didn’t receive homework assignments the first week.
“Now desperate to continue her education, (the girl) her brother and mother although destitute, were forced to leave their home in Shoshone and relocate to Gooding, Idaho, for the purpose of continuing the education of the two teenagers,” court documents say.
The girl “suffered severe physical, and mental distress, physiological damage, loss of standing in their community and damage to her reputation,” according to the documents.
The girl and her mother have been required to attend counseling and receive treatment with psychotropic medication.
The family has turned to charities for help with paying the rent, buying food and other necessities.
JAKE CROUSE and JULIE WOOTTON-GREENER
WENDELL — Tim Perrigot will be leaving his post as Minico High School head football coach and will become superintendent of the Wendell School District, which announced the hire Thursday afternoon.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me,” Perrigot told the Times-News via email, “but I will always appreciate the time that I spent in the Minidoka School District. It is a special place to work.”
Perrigot will replace Greg Lowe, who announced in October he would retire as Wendell’s superintendent after 14 years in the position. He plans to officially step down in June, and Perrigot will take over in July.
“We’re really excited about the energy and positivity Tim brings with him,” Wendell school board chairwoman Tessa Yon said Thursday. “The ability to connect with the students and staff is huge for us.”
She said she feels Perrigot will bring the community together and help the schools “be the best they can be.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that he will continue the positive changes being implemented by Mr. Lowe,” Yon wrote in an email to the Times-News. “I am ecstatic for our staff, students and community members. The future is looking very bright for Wendell.”
The Wendell School District, which has about 1,200 students, started advertising the superintendent position in November.
A 10-member search committee interviewed three final candidates — all from the Magic Valley and Treasure Valley — on Saturday, Yon said. There weren’t any internal candidates from Wendell.
The Wendell school board voted Wednesday night to hire Perrigot, and he accepted the job that night. The school board made the announcement Thursday afternoon to Wendell school employees.
Perrigot was hired on a three-year rolling contract, Yon said. The salary amount isn’t available yet because Perrigot hasn’t signed the contract.
Minico athletic director Ty Shippen will now be heading up the effort to replace the longest tenured football head coach in Minico history.
“The Minico football program is headed in a great direction, and we want to continue what he’s created and built,” Shippen said. “I hate to see him go, but I’m happy for him at the same time. I have no doubts he’ll do a great job in Wendell.”
Perrigot served as Minico’s head football coach for 22 years, and was an assistant coach for the Spartans four seasons prior to that. He has also served as principal of West Minico Middle School since 2010. Before that, he was Minico’s vice principal and athletic director.
This past fall, Perrigot led Minico to its first state title appearance in school history. Nine of the Spartans’ 13 conference championships and all but one of their 10 playoff appearances have come with Perrigot at the helm.
Minidoka County Joint School District superintendent Kenneth Cox said Perrigot’s tenure as coach was one of great excitement and hope.
“He took a team to greater heights and will be sorely missed in that regard,” Cox said. “It’s going to be hard to fill his shoes with all he’s done to improve the program.”
Shippen said Perrigot changed the football program.
“To take the program from where it was to what its become, it’s been incredible,” Shippen said. “His hard work, dedication and concern for the program and his players showed. How much respect he and his staff have in the football world, it’s just a testament to his character and his career.”
One of the things Shippen said he will remember most about Perrigot is the way he involved himself in his players’ lives.
“He just has a way of connecting with his players,” Shippen said. “He tells them all the times he loves them, and he really does. We’ve been really fortunate to have someone like him leading our program.”