BILLINGS — The Billings West Golden Bears know last year was special.
"We got to the top and once you get there, you have to enjoy it - otherwise why would you do it?" asked head coach Rob Stanton. "But you have to put it in the back mirror, and we have to move on for this year."
That's what the defending Class AA state champs have been saying all summer.
"Coach preaches to us every day about don't get complacent," said running back Demarcus Carr. "Just keep our foot on the gas."
Carr knows how to do that. As a junior last season he racked up over 2,000 total yards but averaged less than a catch a game. So guess what he's been working on?
"Route running and just catching the ball more out of the backfield," Carr said. "I feel like that will be big for us."
West will lean heavily on Carr and wide receiver Connor Ryan, another speed demon who, as of this week, is a brand new Montana State Bobcat.
"I kind of grew up in it. My dad went there," Ryan said. "Even before I knew I wanted to, I guess I wanted to go to the Cats. It feels like home there."
It was Ryan's goal to make his college decision before the season started.
"I just focus on playing now, not really worrying about anything," Ryan said.
Quarterback Josh Erbacher is back to direct it all, which always makes it easier.
"I feel like he's always calm under pressure," Ryan said. "He knows exactly what he's doing all the time, he knows all the plays. He's always ready to play."
"Everybody wants their quarterback back. If we could have John Edwards for 30 years, that'd be great," Stanton joked. "If they could have Nathan Dick for 30 years at Billings Senior, all those things. Quarterback is where we start - every coach in the world will probably tell you, that's the fish we have to have - and we have a good one there."
The coaching staff's biggest challenge will be on defense, where the Bears graduated the best secondary in the state. But even former players know it's not time to dwell.
"I stole a quote from a former West High Bear, Brayden Deming," Stanton said. "'Keep your mouth shut, keep your ears open and replicate what's in front of you.' We're going to put that one on the wall. so props to Brayden for that one."
West isn't looking back. It's all about the future now.