HOT SPRINGS — Year in and year out, Hot Springs is always one of the top 6-Man football teams in western Montana.
It's no different in 2021 as Hot Springs figures to be contenders once again. The Savage Heat are led by the talented duo of Jack McAllister and Kyle Lawson.
Lawson and McAllister were a highlight waiting to happen in 2020 as juniors. Coming into 2021, the duo have plenty of expectations around them for a Hot Springs team that perennially contends in the 6-Man ranks.
"It’s just a lot of fun playing with him," Lawson said. "We’ve been friends since we were little and it’s just always fun playing football with your best friend and it’s nice to be playing football with him so we got a good connection going and we look out for each other on the football field and I think that’s what helped us out a lot, just the friendship we have."
Both two-way stars, McAllister operates at quarterback while Lawson plays as more of a running back and wideout on offense.
As most 6-Man standouts do, they two were thrown into big minutes as freshmen due to numbers on the team, and have since grown into their roles after taking a big leap in 2020.
"It’s been a lot of fun playing with Kyle. I know him and he knows me pretty well. We’ve played all through junior high and everything. We’ve grown up together doing everything and I think that plays a pretty big role in every sport and it’s been a lot of fun playing with him."
Hot Springs had arguably the weirdest schedule of any high school team in Montana last season.
After starting the year 2-0, the Savage Heat went a full month without a game -- a postponed game due to weather and another due to a scheduling mishap. Once they finally got to play again, they played their final two regular season games against Noxon and White Sulphur Springs in a 48-hour stretch, before waiting two more weeks before losing in the first round of the 6-Man playoffs to Bridger in a heartbreaking loss.
"It was pretty tough for a lot of us," McAllister said. "Having to face all of the things we had to go through throughout the season. There was times we were practicing for a month straight and it’s just keep that mindset that practice for the next game and just keep going."
"It was tough, it was hard staying motivated just practicing all the time but it was nice having that good group of seniors," Lawson added. "They wanted to play football a lot and it was just fun playing with everybody last year."
Still, the playoff experience benefited this Hot Springs team that comes into this season as a younger group. With just 16 players out for football, Hot Springs has four seniors including Lawson, McAllister, Benedict Waterbury and Vania Afonin.
But with a full schedule planned for 2021, the Savage Heat are ready to make another run at a state title with Lawson and McAllister at the helm. They'll open the season on Aug. 27 at Valier.
"They’ve brought a ton of leadership to the table and I think this year more than any other year they’re just being really vocal, really encouraging to the younger kids," head coach Jim Lawson said. "It’s pretty awesome to see we haven't had to come out here and be like somebody needs to be a leader. Those guys have just taken over that role and run with it."