GREAT FALLS — As the East team prepares for Saturday’s 75th annual East-West Shrine all-star game featuring some of the best football players in the state, a select few will enter Saturday's contest with no experience with 11-man football because up until this week they’ve been playing 6-man football.
Froid-Medicine Lake’s Brett Stentoft finds the adjustment easier with the smaller area to cover but when it comes to terminology and the different calls used on defense, things get a little more complex.
“It’s a little bit easier than 6-man because you don’t have as much of the field to cover you just have your certain spot but it’s been a little hard to get used to it and learn all their different calls,” Stentoft explained.
Meanwhile, Power-Dutton-Brady’s Spencer Lehnerz took a little bit longer to acclimate to the schemes and role as a defensive end with the position much more simplified at the 6-man level.
“For the first two days I was totally confused,” Lehnerz confessed. “I had no idea what they were calling but since we’ve got the three-a-days every [day], we’re figuring it out and I’m adjusting to it pretty well.”
Even Lehnerz's high school coach, Tom Tranmer, who’s coached 6-man and 8-man football for 40 years is learning things this week about the 11-man game.
“A guy like me really just comes in and helps them out here and there and tries to fire them up a little bit but they’re actually the ones teaching me, they coach me,” he said.
Stentoft and Lehnerz know each other well after duking it out in the 6-man state title game this year where Froid-Medicine Lake captured their second 6-man state title in a row. They also competed against each other last week in Custer in the 6-man all-star game, both winning defensive MVPs for their teams. This week though, they’re teammates.
“I haven’t really talked any smack, we’re pretty good now and he’s a cool guy,” Stentoft said. “We’re probably good friends now.”
“We’ve always kind of been frenemies but now that we’re all on the same team, we can just be friends now instead of enemies,” Lehnerz added.
The Dickinson State-bound Stentoft will hold down the middle for the East at inside linebacker while Lehnerz will be on the outside at defensive back. Fort Benton’s Brock Hanford who played 8-man football and Canada’s Sylvester Ibelo, who played 12-man football north of the border, will accompany Stentoft and Lehnerz in participating in 11-man football for the first time.