BILLINGS – It’s October and the Billings Senior football team is closing in on an undefeated regular season.
The Broncs will clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout November’s Class AA playoffs with a win over crosstown rival Billings Skyview on Friday.
But for all the great plays, games and wins in August, September, October and potentially November, coach Chris Murdock has been adamant that this year’s success was built in June and July. When the temperatures were flirting with triple digits, the Broncs were grinding through rigorous offseason workouts. Attendance was the best it’s been in Murdock’s five-year tenure.
One of those players working, sweating and bleeding with his teammates under the hot summer sun was the youngest Casares son, Noah.
“Summer workouts, I don’t think he missed a day,” Murdock said. “Part of it is, his brothers are coaches – if he misses a day, he’s going to hear about it.”
Casares is one of three brothers in the Senior High football program. Brandon Anton, the oldest at 28, coaches the wide receivers and Josh Casares, 24, coaches the running backs.
Anton and Josh Casares were both wide receivers for the Broncs. Anton joined Mark Sulser’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the program ever since, and Josh Casares joined a couple years ago.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping football at football (practice),” Anton said. “At home, we’ll talk about it a little bit, but when all is said and done, it’s just a game. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s something that we love. We don’t want to make anything negative. If there is some adversity, we’ll let it die down a little bit and then talk about it. When the dust settles, we kind of joke about it, laugh about it and move on.”
“Starting since Little Guy (Football), they’ve been telling me what to do,” Noah said. “So I’m kind of used to it, but it’s way better having them actually as coaches and being there and telling me what I need to work on, especially when (offensive line coach Brandon Quesenberry) tells them. It helps a lot having them there.”
Keeping it in the family has been easy for the brothers. Disputes are few and far between, and there’s not much of a sibling rivalry at hand. It’s mostly encouragement, direction and even pride.
“He’s not the biggest guy, but he definitely holds his own up front,” Anton said. “One-hundred percent effort, always going. It’s been awesome to see.”
At 5-foot-9, 215 pounds, Noah is small for a Class AA offensive lineman. But on offense that features Gatorade Player of the Year candidates Nate Dick at quarterback and Gabe Sulser at wide receiver, Noah has as big of impact as anybody.
Senior employs a breakneck, up-tempo offense that relies on quick-hitting precision. The first step to get that high-octane offense clicking on all cylinders is the center-to-quarterback ball exchange. It can’t be overstated, according to Murdock.
“He’s been really good, as far as how he grades out,” Murdock said. “He’s always graded above 80 percent, which is, especially up front, really good. He’s consistently done that. The most noticeable thing is, the snaps are getting back there. He’s just one of those kids you just never notice, because he does his job. He just goes about it, does what he needs to do – typical O-lineman, I guess.”
The biggest compliment an offensive lineman can receive is to not be noticed.
Well, except when tracking workout attendance in June and July.