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GOODING — The bond between teammates that comes along with being a member of the Gooding High School football squad seems to be a powerful one.

Although seniors Anthony Novis and Jayden Mullins have already finished their final season with the Senators, that connection won’t be ending time soon.

The two standout defensive players both signed their letters of intent to play football at Rocky Mountain College, where they’ll look to continue to cause problems for opposing offenses for the next four years.

“It was really cool when they both got offered,” Gooding head coach Cameron Andersen said. “For us to know they’ll have that, to have each other. It’s a grind...I know coach [Chris] Stutzriem will do a great job of allowing those two to be together and grow in the process as they become Bears.”

Each player had options, but both were drawn to the opportunities presented by Rocky Mountain.

Novis narrowed his choices down to a top three, with Rocky, College of Idaho and Carroll College, where Gooding teammate Cayden Loveland signed to attend on Jan. 22. In the end, the Battlin’ Bears prevailed.

Academics factored in as well, Novis said, as he plans to major in health and human performance, with the goal of becoming an athletic trainer or strength and conditioning coach for sports teams in the future. The program Rocky Mountain offered wasn’t going to be passed up.

Mullins also looked at the University of Montana Western, but, much like his teammate, had his heart set on one particular place, where he’s set to study business administration.

“Rocky just felt like home,” Mullins said. “Everything was so great.”

Andersen described Mullins, who plans to play outside linebacker in college, as one of the most passionate players he’s ever coached, while Novis, who will play cornerback, is a “raw athlete” with a lot of versatility in his defensive ability.

Both athletes stated their desire to put their best foot forward in fall camp, with the hopes of locking down playing time, even in early stages of their careers.

“I’m going in there with the mentality that I want the starting position,” Mullins said. “I’m gonna give it all I got and just ball out.”

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On top of achieving their dreams of playing college football, Novis and Mullins get to continue their growth as teammates and friends at the next level.

Mullins said that, right when he arrived at Rocky for his visit, he could sense the brotherhood among the team there, and said it will only make the experience even better to have a brother from his hometown along with him.

“It’s awesome because Jayden and I have grown up playing football together our whole lives,” Novis said. “It’s a really good thing to see him grow, me grow, then go to the same college to play football.”

Novis and Mullins both talked about how they owe so much of the prolonging of their football careers to their other brothers, the members of the Gooding program.

The two noted that every person involved in the program has helped them grow into the people they are today, while making them better football players.

“If you want to play college football, Gooding High School is the way to go,” Novis said. “If you’ve got dreams to play, Andersen, he’ll make it happen.”

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