BOZEMAN — The Bozeman Gallatin football team went 1-6 in 2020, their first year ever as a program. They’ve been hitting the weight-room and practicing hard to make a big leap in year two.
“It seems like some people think we're going to be really good, some people think we’re going to be terrible," said head coach Hunter Chandler. "None of it really matters. I think we're going to be the underdog, we have a lot to prove and that’s the way it should be.”
When last season came to a close, the players and coaches wasted no time preparing for 2021.
“As soon as we ended last year, we were in the weightroom the next following week, five days a week," said Montana State commit and defensive end/tight end Rylan Schlepp, who finished last season with 489 receiving yards and six touchdowns. "Ever since then, we’ve been doing football meetings Wednesdays and pretty much all offseason we were meeting -- total grind.”
The experience as a team of juniors of below last year and full off-season of workouts, the Raptors coaching staff is giddy to see what their team has this season.
“Most of our kids have worked really hard so it’s just exciting to see the gains and see them mature a little bit," Chandler said. "We still have a lot to prove so we will see. We had good camps, we had good practices, but you never really know what you got until that first game hits.”
With a full year at the varsity level under their belts, the coaching staff is putting more on the plates of the players.
“The second year, even the terminology and that stuff, our kids understanding that is going to help them play a lot faster and them knowing what they’re doing,” said Chandler.
Gallatin has a quarterback battle brewing between last year’s starter Braeden Mikkelson and Jake Vigen, both of whom are seniors. Before an injury last season, Mikkelson started five games for Gallatin, throwing for 179 yards per game with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“They both bring different things to the table," Chandler said. "They’re both good players. So we’ll have to see how it shakes out. Whoever plays the best is going to win the job.”
Expectations are much different this time around, as the Raptors are expecting a lot more than to just surpass their one-win total in 2020.
“We feel like can be able to make a playoff run or make it to the playoffs, we probably could have had the opportunity to do that last year we just lost second half games and we didn’t finish through,” Schlepp said.
The Raptors are at home to take on Missoula Big Sky at 7 p.m. this Friday to kickoff their season.