COLUMBIA FALLS – Camron Rothie isn’t used to standing on the sidelines. That’s what made Friday, Aug. 24 so difficult.
“My legs were shaking on the sideline. It was tough, the home opener, it was a tough one,” he said.
Rothie, along with receiver/linebacker Tucker Jones, were both in jeans during Hamilton’s season-opening game against Whitefish, a 36-10 Broncs’ victory. The duo played pivotal roles in the Bitterroot Red Sox’s third-place finish at the American Legion Baseball Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in mid-August.
Rothie and Jones didn’t have enough practices to compete in Hamilton’s first game, as baseball season overlapped the first few days of football. The Broncs still earned the win, but starting quarterback Carson Rostad missed their presence.
“It was really nice for him to come back,” Rostad said of Rothie in particular. “It was confusing, just mentally, not having him there. We have guys behind him that can do the same stuff when they want to. He really takes up a lot of the defense. He makes them think and worry about him. He really opens up other guys and he’s a great leader.”
“Looking at last year, we got done in the state (football) title game, we took Sunday off and we started basketball on Monday. We played in the third-place game (at state) in basketball, (Rothie) took Sunday off and then started baseball. He got home Tuesday (Aug. 14) night from baseball and started fall camp. He’s had three days off in a year,” said Hamilton coach Bryce Carver. “We ask a lot of him to come in, it’s his first football game and he does what he does, but we expect that from him. Cam is a great, great player, a great leader and it’s hard for people to stay in front of him. He’s small, but dynamite in his size, too. I just hope he continues to have a good year and we can continue moving forward.”
Rothie’s 2018 debut was one for the ages, a seven-reception, 106-yard and four-touchdown performance in Hamilton’s 35-24 win over Columbia Falls, avenging the Broncs’ loss to the Wildcats in the 2017 state championship game. According to Class A statistician Brian Reed, it was only the 14th time an athlete in the classification has hauled in four receiving touchdowns.
Per Reed, the four scores Friday night pushed Rothie’s career total to 25, tied for third-best in Class A history. He also has 79 receptions for 1,362 yards, with the odds favorable he climbs into the top 10 in those categories, as well.
“That’s crazy. We lost a couple key guys last year, so we knew we would have to step it up this year. It was a crazy game,” Rothie said after he also sealed Hamilton’s win with an interception. “The ball just happened to be there for me whenever I ran good routes. Carson made good throws, man, right on point every time.”
Rostad continued his assault of the Class A record books, too, with the scoring strikes to his senior receiver giving him 71 for his career, No. 4 all-time behind Havre’s Dane Warp, Columbia Falls’ Dakota Bridwell and Luke May of Whitefish.
Through the first two games of 2018, Rostad has thrown for 5,474 total yards, with his 2017 campaign, 3,079 yards, only the second single-season to eclipse 3,000 passing yards (Bridwell had 3,901 in 2016).
“I didn’t even know that. I’m more of a ‘worry about the team’ kind of guy,” said Rostad.
How many of those 71 touchdown passes can he remember?
“These four tonight,” he said Friday.
“He’s a stud,” said Rothie. “He’s been in this program since he was a freshman, started as a freshman, and he gets better and better every game. That’s what we need from him.”
“He actually played one game of junior varsity as a freshman, that was it,” Carver said of Rostad, a junior, who went 6-2 as a starter his freshman season. “Then he was a backup on one game and then we brought him in on the third game and that’s been all she wrote. He’s a kid that came in, you knew he was special as an eighth grader, you just could see it in him. You could tell in his demeanor. He’s always had the athletic talent, but he has matured and become a leader and been able to handle some very strenuous situations in the past three years. He’s just a guy that is a great leader, a great football player and we look forward to him keeping leading our team.”
As Rostad and Rothie continue vaulting up the Class A record books, they surpass some of Montana’s all-time prep greats – names like Warp, May, Linder, Bauder, Mariani and Harris. Sometimes lost in the record-setting is the play of fellow Broncs like running back Michael Golden (98 yards and one touchdown against Columbia Falls) and Jones (six receptions for 71 yards), as well as the offensive line that keys it all.
“What’s weird is, it’s nothing we do different. I’m not out to get records or anything. It’s kind of the style of offense we play,” said Carver. “As you see, I like to run the ball. I like to establish the run game and I think that’s what opens our passing game. We’ve had the top two guys, at least top five running backs the last four years and that’s really helped our throwing game. Then you have to credit our offensive linemen up front, our coaches and stuff. We started two sophomores and a junior that this was their first time ever playing varsity football. Credit those guys and then credit the two seniors that are helping them along the way, as well.”
Hamilton travels to Browning on Friday, Sept. 7 to face the 1-1 Indians.