MISSOULA – How do you rebuild a football program with 33 straight losses, and a dwindling number of players? That’s the task for Hellgate right now. And the Knights have made a plan. They have asked to not play varsity for the upcoming season.
Hellgate made the official request, and is now waiting on the ok from the MHSA. New head coach Mick Morris has seen good numbers out for a camp this week in the freshman and sophomore classes. But very few upper classman have shown interest. So the Knights feel a year playing only sub-varsity games would help develop the program.
“It was kind of a worry of mine to show up,” said Morris. “And you never want to tell a kid, especially a senior, that they are not going to be able to play varsity. But the ones that are interested in it, they’re ok with it. They just want to go out there and compete and have fun. If we can put them in a situation where they are competitive. You know, they’re excited about it I think.”
“I feel like it’s honestly definitely the way to go,” said sophomore Burke McGowan. “Cause you know, if we just had another varsity season it would just be the same thing. Cause we just need more numbers. We need to develop at the younger level.”
Hellgate plans to bring back varsity football in 2017. Morris has helped turned around programs in Conrad, Montana and Nampa, Idaho, and he loves the excitement he has seen from the Knights this week. He also looks forward to the upcoming challenge.
“To me it’s a new opportunity,” said Morris. “You know, it’s exciting to kind of take a blank canvas and kind of make it what you want it to be. And that’s I think what excites me. And beyond that, the majority of these kids they just want something to believe in.”
“When I got to meet him I was ecstatic,” added McGowan. “Coach Morris is a great guy with a good, strong background in football. And I feel like he is the perfect coach for Hellgate.”