Intends to continue football career
By Brandon Walker EBS SPORTS EDITOR
BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School senior quarterback Frankie Starz will be trading his Big Horns blue and white for Chapman University Panther black and red this fall. The three-year starter for LPHS will depart for the Orange, California campus this upcoming season to continue his football career at the collegiate level.
“We think that he’s got leadership skills, and certainly traveling from there to Chapman, a little bit of assertiveness in terms of being able to look at a situation, evaluate it, and determine that that’s where you would like to go to school,” said Chapman University head football coach Bob Owens of Starz. “…That also demonstrates a little bit of confidence in himself, to be able to step into a program that is on the rise like our program is.”
Starz’s final campaign as a Big Horn was one to remember as he and his teammates achieved milestone victories over the course of the season. Starz also earned second team All-Conference honors on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball.
“Frankie has made a mark on [LPHS] that won’t be going away anytime soon. He is an outstanding football player and gave all of his heart, energy and effort for his team and his program,” said LPHS athletic director John Hannahs. “He is going to be missed very much by all of his coaches. Not just for his dominant ability, but his leadership and attitude towards his team and coaches.”
Starz said he will miss his teammates most from his days as a Big Horn. “[I] just formed a great relationship with everyone there and the bus rides and practice—joking around at practice—and stuff like that. Just the whole atmosphere there,” he said.
The quarterback accumulated nearly 1,300 yards passing to go along with 13 passing touchdowns, seven rushing touchdowns and over 400 rushing yards on the year. He will depart LPHS with the most passing and total touchdowns in school history.
“I’m just really proud of him. He’s worked very hard,” said Starz’s mother, Barb Rooney. “…I think it speaks volumes to his tenacity and dedication to his athletics and continuing his education too.”
CU—a competitor at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division three level of play—is coming off their winningest season in program history, including their first postseason victory, according to chapmanathletics.com. Starz attended one of the Panthers contests last season and is awaiting team workouts—slated to commence in August—pandemic permitting, with the team’s first game set for Sept. 5.
“I thought it was a good fit for me and I’ve always wanted to go to school in California,” Starz said. “They have a great coaching staff there and a great program, so I’m just excited to be a part of that.”
The Panthers graduated only 14 athletes from last year’s team and will be returning many players for this season, according to Owens, who has led the program for the past 14 seasons. “We just say the best player plays and with that stated, Frankie’s walking into a situation where the door is open and he can challenge, just like every other guy, and we’ll play the best guy,” Owens said.
Starz is currently preparing for the season by working out with his older brother, Eddie Starz, a football player at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Their father, Doug, praised both of his children for their work ethic as they practice for the coming season.
“They don’t wait until day one when football or basketball season starts, they’re out there months in advance. They’re doing it right now. Him and his brother are throwing and working out,” he said.
After competing in eight-man football throughout a majority of his high school career, Starz will now make the switch to the traditional 11-man football in the context of steeper competition. “Just learning that it’s like a whole new game,” Starz said of the different style of play, “so as a quarterback you need to learn a bunch of new stuff like reads and how to read zones and stuff like that.”
Doug believes that his son’s resilience and speed will help him quickly adjust to the greater number of players on the field. “The thing about Frankie that’s the most outstanding thing about him is he never quits, and when he fails, he gets right back up and he keeps going,” he said.
The University of St. Thomas also competes at the Division three level of NCAA athletics, meaning the Starz brothers could meet each other in a potential playoff matchup this season. “You root for both of them, you don’t root for either one…You just want to watch your kids do well,” Doug said.
Rooney said that she has already discussed the possibility with her sons. “We’ll see if that ever happens, but it would just be kind of an out of body experience for me as a mom actually,” she said.
Starz may be playing under the California sun next fall, but his impact in the small Montana town where he first learned to throw a football will live on. “I can’t say enough about his character; he is a talented athlete, but the fact that he can graduate from a small Class C school and move on to compete in athletics at the college level already speaks volumes about his work ethic,” Hannahs said. “We are extremely proud of Frankie.”