Bonners Ferry High School Senior Football Players By Christian Weaner | Photo by Hannah Sucsy
Travis Hinthorn had been teaching physical education and coaching football at Boundary County Middle School for about 20 years when an exceptional group of students came through his program.
They went undefeated in football as fifth- and sixth-graders, and then again in seventh and eighth grade. When it came time for these talented athletes to move up to high school, the timing aligned perfectly for Travis to stick with them—the varsity head coaching position became available, and a job opened to be the high school weightlifting teacher.
Four years later, this group of students are now seniors, and their middle school and junior varsity success has translated to the varsity level.
“There was an opening and I just thought, ‘These kids are a good group, they’re big and athletic, they’re good students and they’re high character kids,” Travis said. “So, they have the total package that works for football.”
Travis explained that the large and talented Class of 2023—23 football players in total—has done great things not only for the Bonners Ferry High School (BFHS) football program but for the entire school.
“It is neat to see them not only develop in football, but you have a couple [students] like Donny Reiss and Tully Reinhardt who have jumped into the leadership class and really built the positive spirit and sportsmanship of the school,” Travis said.
On the football field this season, the senior-laden Badgers have achieved levels of success the team has not seen in 20-plus years.
Travis was a 1990 graduate of BFHS, and he can only recall a handful of seasons in school history that have equaled the number of victories the Badgers have accumulated in 2022.
And the year just got more exciting! Led by Blake Rice’s three-touchdown performance and a stellar defensive effort, the Badgers beat rival Timberlake 18-13 on October 21. The win gave Bonners Ferry its first undefeated regular season since 1975 and earned the Badgers a home playoff game against Wood River.
Although he had good things to say about all the seniors, Travis specifically expressed his appreciation for Blake Rice, Cleo Hensley, Dillon Mai and Donny Reiss—the four players the team voted as their captains this season. Travis added that the entire group of seniors have been great role models for younger Badger athletes.
“[The seniors have] showed the norm as to how to be a good student, how to work in the weight room, how to be committed to practice and how to travel,” Travis said.
As he thought about the senior class, whom he has coached since they were in middle school, Travis admitted that graduation this year will be a sad day.
“It will be a happy day at graduation,” Travis laughed, correcting himself. “It will be a sad day the day after graduation.”