MISSOULA — High school football is back. Teams around the state kicked off their first practices Friday, just two weeks before we'll start playing games in Montana. One of the many teams that hit the field for two-a-days was Missoula Big Sky.
Last year the Eagles struggled down the stretch, finishing near the bottom of Class AA at 2-8. Big Sky once again will need players to step into big roles, with low overall numbers and 18 contributors from last year's team graduated.
But coach Matt Johnson says his new group of seniors have shown great signs of leadership.
"They've put a lot of time in. I've had two of them that didn't miss a summer session all summer. I think their attitude coming in is a huge lift overall. I think every year is a little different, also," said Johnson. "We have a couple new coaches, we install a few new things, we look a little different in a lot of different ways. I think there are some new things, and that's what helps keep it fresh every year."
Other than losing those seniors, another big change coming to the offense is the starting quarterback. Last year Andrew Gardanier started every game under center, but this year the Eagles are being lead by sophomore Draven Lincoln.
Although the offense is young, veteran wide receiver Everrett Fred has confidence in his underclassman signal caller.
"I'm focused on getting the chemistry down with (Lincoln). He was with the junior varsity last year because we had Andrew," Fred said. "He's improved quite a bit this year,and I believe he actually got number one quarterback at quarterback camp out of town this summer. So I am really looking forward to connecting with him in this upcoming season."
The Eagles open the season two weeks from Friday, hosting defending state champ Billings West on Aug. 30.