MISSOULA — One of Montana’s top high school football players in the Class of 2020 has brought his talents to Missoula.
Junior Jaxon Lee, a former 8-man standout at Flint Creek (Drummond-Philipsburg), has transferred to Sentinel and has been enrolled there since the start of the spring semester, he told 406mtsports.com in a phone interview.
Lee said his transfer was for academic and social reasons, adding that sports "are like a bonus." His move could provide a lift for Sentinel football, and it’s possible that the change to the 11-man game and a bigger city could be a boost for the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Lee as he looks to play in college.
“Maybe I’ll get more offers. Maybe not. There’s no way to say,” said Lee, who has an offer from Montana State. “Sports, it’ll be not better but different. It’ll be a good experience, different talents, different level. I just think it’s going to be fun, and that’s what I’m hoping for is to have a good, fun senior year.”
Lee is one of only two in-state Class of 2020 players who is known to have a Division I football scholarship offer. Hamilton quarterback Carson Rostad is the other player, with reported offers from Montana and Montana State.
Lee was a five-time all-state honoree for Flint Creek, the two-time defending 8-man state champions who likely would’ve been a favorite to three-peat with Lee in 2019. He earned all-state honors at defensive back (13 interceptions) and kick returner/punt returner in 2018, and at slot back, defensive back and punt returner in 2017 as a sophomore. Lee was a Western C honorable mention at kick returner as a freshman.
“I’m not looking for (the transfer) to make me so much as in better but just to have fun and have a good group of guys to be with,” Lee said. “With workouts, in Philipsburg we didn’t do that many workouts. Here, I’m lifting twice a day. It’s the high school experience I dreamed of, and I feel like I’m getting it here at Sentinel.”
Originally from Belgrade, Lee had played 11-man football since he was 5 years old before his family moved to Philipsburg going into his freshman year of high school. He wanted to move back to a bigger city after two-plus years of “struggling with friends and having people to hang out with.”
Lee’s family decided he could choose between Missoula and Butte since Belgrade would be too far away to visit his mom, who stayed in Philipsburg. He liked the city of Missoula better and settled on Sentinel because one of his uncles, Rich Keeland, had gone there.
A three-sport star, Lee has also been a standout athlete on the basketball court and on the track for Philipsburg. He was ninth in the state in the 200-meter dash, 10th in the long jump and 11th in the 400-meter dash as a sophomore.
Lee is in the process of siting out 90 days because of an MHSA rule that applies to his transfer since both his parents didn't move and re-establish residence. He'll be limited to running junior varsity track this spring but will be eligible for varsity sports his senior year.
Lee has a 3.8 grade-point average. Since transferring to Sentinel, he said, “Schooling is actually fun, and I never thought I’d say that,” because of the diversity of classes offered and not having the same people in every class with him.
“That’s also something exciting for me because Philipsburg is just so limited, not that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s just too small to get some of these classes I can take at Sentinel,” Lee said. “I’m pretty excited to see because I have no idea what I want to do in college, so it’s going to be good to take a few classes next year to just explore my options.”