Hot Springs won its second state title in five years in 2016. (ANDY HANNUM/For MTN Sports)

HOT SPRINGS – Hot Springs suited up the best team in 6-man football this season. The Savage Heat left little doubt, blowing out everyone on their way to a state championship.

The seeds for 2016 dominance were planted in 2012, when many of the current Savage Heat watched that year’s team claim the first state title in school history.

“I remember standing on the sideline looking at Kane (Lawson) and Wyatt (Carr) and telling them, ‘This is us, guys,'” said running back and linebacker Trevor Paro. “Let’s make this happen when we’re in high school.”

Hot Springs lost out in the playoffs each of the past three years. But it all came together this fall. The Savage Heat destroyed opponents in nine regular-season games by a score of 613-32. And they did the same through three playoff wins, 66-0, 89-19 and 58-8.

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That set up over a 700-mile, 11-hour trip to Plentywood to meet Westby-Grenora in the final. Believe it or not, these high school stars loved the journey.

“No, it made it a lot of fun, to be honest,” said German-exchange student Marco Degel, who stepped in at quarterback and defensive back in his first year at Hot Springs. “Because we had our own rooms in the hotel, and the bus ride was pretty fun.”

“It wasn’t too tough because you’re having fun with your best friends, and you get to travel with your best friends,” added running back and linebacker Kane Lawson. “It seemed like it took only an hour to get home. It was pretty crazy.”

The Thunder gave the Savage Heat their closest game of the season in the championship. But the final scoreboard still read 54-20, making that trek home feel quick. And giving everyone in Hot Springs a reason to celebrate.

“This community is unbelievable,” said Paro. “We show up to the Y (on the drive home), as soon as we show up we have half of the town there escorting us into town.”

“When we came here, when we arrived, the parade, the fireworks,” remembered Degel, “that was pretty awesome.”

“Pretty much the whole town of Hot Springs down on the football field,” added Lawson. “It was just a lot of fun.”

“This season has been so memorable to me, and everyone in the town of Hot Springs,” said Paro.

“It was really special just thinking we finally got what we wanted over the last four years,” said Lawson.

What they accomplished will last much longer.

Hot Springs brought home the top trophy, while Paro put his name all over the Montana record books. He finished his high school career with 135 touchdowns, breaking the old state record by 16.