(EDITOR’S NOTE: KRTV is featuring one high school football team from Central Montana per day for the next 14 days until kickoff.)

GREAT FALLS — The game plan for the Great Falls High Bison in 2017 is about as straight forward as they come:

“Football’s really a simple game,” said second year head coach Mark Samson. “Your best players have to touch the ball.”

The Bison finished just 2-8 a year ago, but improved nearly every game. The team returns a strong offense this year led by their signal callers.

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“We’re great at quarterback,” Samson added. “Kevin Boes, Blake Thelen, our young kids … Hey, we’re good.”

Boes returns as starter and Coach Samson thinks he has the makings to be the best QB in Class AA. That’s something Boes aims to live up to.

“I think I can,” said the senior quarterback. “I just got to work hard and with the stuff that I’ve done in the off season.”

Over the summer he worked on his decision making, and staying calm under pressure. Now, he’s working to perfect timing with his receivers.

“We’re working on routes,” said Boes. “We’re getting stronger of course and the whole team is working hard and we’re all just gelling together.”

His top target figures to be junior Blake Thelen.

“He’s a great athlete,” Boes said of Thelen. “He’s got the it-factor. He can make plays and he’s really smart. Of course he’s a quarterback so he’s out there running routes the right way doing the right things.”

Thelen says the Boes to Blake connection will be hard to stop.

“Last year was a good start,” said Thelen. “And this year we’re just going to continue where we left off last year. I think our passing game should be just electric.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bison lost 10 of 11 starters. Samson is hoping their lone returner can help provide a spark.

“We’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do on defense,” said the veteran head coach. “We had a lot of seniors last year on defense and then conversely on offense we had a lot of younger kids”

He trusts that senior linebacker Jordan Komac can lead the younger guys on D this year.

Jordan is a competitor,” Samson said. “A lot of the things you want out of an athlete and competitor, he’s already got.”

And Komac, the state champion wrestlers, is ready to step into that role as a captain.

“I just got to talk to my teammates a lot more and help them out,” Komac said. “Gotta be a leader out there and have them trust me.”

But he says having a strong offense certainly helps.

“When the offense is driving the ball and chewing the clock down the defense has more rest more break,” Komac said. “And if we’re scoring points that just gets confidence for us.”

So while there’s plenty of work to be done, Samson is pleased with the progress he’s already seen from his team.

“I can’t say enough about how this program has improved over the last year,” he said. “Some of these kids are head and shoulders where they used to be and that’s what’s exciting about this year.”

The Bison open the season the road Friday, August 26th at Helena Capital. The team’s first home game is set for Friday, September 1st against Billings Skyview.