HELENA — Seniors Zach Spiroff and Grady Koenig are among Helena High's marquee football players.
Spiroff is a 5-foot-9, 165-pound, 3-way player who plays nearly every play of every game, while Koenig, at 6-0, 190 pounds, serves as the club’s main running back.
Spiroff and Koenig see plenty of each other throughout the year, considering they are prep teammates on three different varsity teams: Bengals football and basketball and Helena Senators American Legion AA baseball.
Spiroff has compiled 784 all-purpose yards on the season at wide receiver and kick returner with four touchdowns. He has nine catches for 179 yards (long of 58 yards) and three TD receptions.
On special teams, he has compiled 327 kickoff return yards (25.2-yards average) with a 90-yard return to the house, and 240 punt return yards (14.1 yard average).
At his cornerback position, he is averaging about 11 defensive points, 2.5 solo tackles and 1.5 deflected passes per game. Spiroff, who has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, has one interception, which he returned for 38 yards.
“Z-train is a player who is always pushing himself to be the best,” defensive secondary teammate Alex Johnson said. “He is not afraid of any player he goes up against, and that’s what makes him so impressive.”
Spiroff played four years of Small Fry Football from Grades 5-8, for Kleen King.
On the baseball diamond last summer as the Senators left fielder, he batted .315, and shared the team’s doubles lead with 18. Spiroff ranked No. 2 at four triples, 14 stolen bases and a .491 slugging percentage, and was third on the club in RBIs (30) and runs (42).
Back to football, he said his favorite pro team is the Denver Broncos, recounting how every year the Spiroff family travels to Denver to see an NFL game.
“My favorite player is (Broncos) Philip Lindsey, because he’s an undrafted free agent so he plays with a chip on his shoulder and works for everything he has,” he said.
Spiroff’s parents are Wayne and Kim (Olsen) Spiroff. They both attended Helena High, and for outdoor activities both are “big into” hunting and snow skiing.
He described how his mom and dad have had the most impact on his sporting endeavors, by “always supporting me in all sports.” Also, his uncle – and Bengals assistant coach – Rob Tesch has been extremely influential, “as he laid the groundwork for my athletic career” in football and baseball.
Of his three positions, his favorite is cornerback.
“I get to go up against some of the best athletes in the AA, plus it’s very challenging to deal with the mental aspect of the game,” he said.
Spiroff gives credit to his success to the defensive line – Jack Kanta, Jett Moody, Cody Crowley, Darrell Kelly, and Booker Perkins – noting how well their pass rush helps out the secondary.
“They’re very solid with stopping the run game as well,” he said.
Koenig has rushed for 846 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, with 10 touchdowns. Against Great Falls, he ran for 274 yards, third most in a game in team history, and scored five TDs, tying for No. 2 on the school’s all-time list.
He also has nine catches for 129 yards.
“Grady is a run-you-over type running back that also has the ability to get out and run,” quarterback Ty McGurran said. “He plays with an edge unlike nothing I’ve ever seen, especially when something ticks him off.
“We’ve been playing on the same team since kindergarten, so we have great chemistry together running and throwing the ball.”
Koenig is the son of Brad and Sandie Koenig, who both hail from Boise, Idaho. His mom played basketball for Borah High, while his dad was a wrestler and football player at Centennial High.
Brady, who has clocked a 4.77 for the 40, played his Small Fry Football with Helena Motors and Montana City. His teams made the City Tournament semifinals several times.
As a utility player on the diamond for the Senators, Koenig batted .221 last summer, with a .368 OBP. He was also third on the team with three triples.
As for who’s had the most influence on his athletics, he pointed out his father, Brad.
“My dad has just helped push me to be the best that I can be, as an athlete, and as a person,” Koenig said.
His favorite NFL player is the late Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, because Payton “was an awesome football player who had a mindset to never let someone take him down,” and he also did good things off the field.
Like Spiroff, Koenig gave credit the big guys up front. In this case the Offensive line of Holden Sampson, Brady Grigsby, Blake Nichols, Michael Gulden, Ryan Young, Miles Hush and Jacob Howell.
“They’re a powerhouse,” he said. “They come to practice every day with a kick-ass mentality and a great attitude for driving guys and controlling the line of scrimmage.”