Yelm High School seniors Kollin Gifford and Cooper Cleveringa have earned scholarships to continue their football careers at the University of Montana Western after the duo helped lead the Tornados …
Yelm High School seniors Kollin Gifford and Cooper Cleveringa have earned scholarships to continue their football careers at the University of Montana Western after the duo helped lead the Tornados football team to a 10-1 record during its 2021 season.
The high school hosted a signing day event for the two seniors on Wednesday, Feb. 2 in the commons area.
Surrounded by family, coaches, teachers and friends, Cleveringa, who was a defensive end and linebacker, and Gifford, who was right tackle, each signed their National Letter of Intent, making their commitment to the Bulldogs official.
Yelm’s Athletic Director Rob Hill congratulated each athlete for their accomplishments during the ceremony and wished them luck along the way. Hill then turned it over to the Tornados offensive line coach Brian Foote.
“I’ve known Kollin since he was a young kid and he’s really grown into a mature young adult,” said Foote. “Montana Western is getting a great kid in Kollin.”
Foote said Gifford brought enthusiasm, grit, hard work, motivation, professionalism and a love of football to his team.
“I only told him the technical stuff, but he would go out there and just dominate guys,” Foote said. “He was a leader on the offensive line, motivated other kids on the team, picked people up, kept kids in check, and just made sure people stayed on track.”
Following Foote’s statements, coach Thomas Hoghaug remarked on Cleveringa and his accomplishments.
“My biggest regret is not being able to coach this kid for more than one year,” said Hoghaug. “Coop brought relentless effort every single play and always wanted to continuously learn. He’s a big time competitor and wanted to win in any way it took.”
Following the speeches by their position coaches, the boys made things official as they put ink to paper and signed their letters of intent.
They were then joined by friends, coaches, and family afterwards for photos and cake.
Yelm High School’s head football coach Jason Ronquillo had high praise for the graduating seniors.
“These are two athletes that know how to compete and have a lot of fun doing it,” said Ronquillo. “Neither one of them takes what they have for granted and they’ll earn everything they get from Montana Western. We were very blessed to have them on our team.”
Ronquillo gave credit to those who raised Gifford and Cleveringa as well.
“They have been raised by great parents that taught them how to perform in school, athletics and relationships with just the right balance,” said Ronquillo.
The Tornados look to replace the strong duo as the seniors depart for Montana once they graduate. Cleveringa in his senior year had 34 tackles, five sacks, five tackles for loss, and one safety in just limited time. Linemen stats aren’t recorded in games, but Gifford’s presence was felt every time he stepped on the field. Whether it was pass protection, or a pull-block, Gifford got the job done at a high level.
The University of Montana Western is located in Dillon, Montana, and has a student population of 1,320.
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