A DUCK BLIND SOMEWHERE IN MONTANA – “We do this to kind of get away, enjoy the Montana outdoors where we’re all kind of born and raised and very active outdoors. We kind of have a connection like that between coach and players,” Helena Capital assistant coach Ryan Fetherston said while searching the sky for waterfowl.

The bonds that players and coaches make during high school sports can last long after the game is over. The Helena Capital football team is a good example of that.

Because when they are not on the field, a handful of players and coaches are here, in the field, spending almost every weekend hunting or fishing, whatever is in season.

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“It’s something that before practice or after we’ll talk about,” continued Fetherston. “Just give us something to get our minds off football every once in a while.”

“Before or after practice or anytime,” said Capital lineman and Montana commit Conor Quick. “It always just gives us something to talk about and just builds a friendship.”

But it’s about more than just making new hunting buddies. These good bonds outside of games lead to great bonds during the season.

“We have that line. They know where player, coach and that friendship is, but when it’s game time and we’re talking, I mean, the trust, the bond that we have is kind of inseparable and it’s helped us in the last three years,” Fetherston said.

“It just gives us another thing in common,” said fellow assistant coach Casey Norbeck. “Obviously we have football, add hunting to it. It’s fun to spend time with people who have common interests. As far as the players, developing that relationship, establishing trust, it helps us out quite a bit.”

And hopefully for these guys, the friendships are ones that last a lifetime.

“If you are with people that love football and then you find that they like other stuff that you like, too, it just strengthens the friendship and makes everything a lot more fun,” said Quick.

“We build great relationships. You know, I’ve gotten to coach some pretty cool kids the last three years in a row,” added Fetherston. “I got to have them from their sophomore year to their senior year, and I hope this relationship continues beyond high school. When they get older, when they have kids, when they get married, I hope that I’m part of their life and someone that they call if they ever need help from.”

“We obviously have a relationship through football, that’s how we’ve met all these kids,” said Norbeck. “And we can continue to do stuff outside of football together. We can continue to build those relationships to make them more lifelong rather than in the moment.”

By the looks of it, they have a great shot of doing just that.

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