BOZEMAN — Friday officially marked the first day of high school football practices across the treasure state. And one of the teams to hit the field this morning was the Bozeman Hawks, who have dealt with their fair share of change this offseason.
“I’m excited to see what these guys can do," said head coach Levi Wesche. "I think we’re going to have a chance to be very solid this year. We just have to make sure we’re taking strides everyday to get better.”
Coming off a season that ended what many believe to be a little early for the Hawks, the energy and expectations from the 2019 squad are high. Avenging what seniors like Kris Brown, Ryan Simpson, and Ryan Lonergan couldn’t accomplish last season is a tall task. But McCade O'Reilly says the up and coming talent will make that a whole lot easier.
“That’s definitely a very important part of our team because we always need those guys to come up and step up with our full team," says O'Reilly, a senior. "Two guys. especially the Lang brothers, they’re going to be really important to us this year, and those two guys are going to have a chip on their shoulder. They’re a bit smaller than everyone else. But they kind of have that dog mentality.”
But outside the team there are a few things the Hawks will have to adjust to. One of them is a new rival in recently turned Class AA school Belgrade.
“Obviously we were bitter rivals with Butte, but they’re not on our schedule this year. We have one true rival in the valley right now that’s within nine miles," adds coach Wesche. "You know, we’ll have three AA schools within a 10 mile radius of one another, so it’ll be interesting.”
And that third school Coach Wesche mentioned will be the Gallatin Raptors, who will play their inaugural season in 2020. But losing some of his players when that split happens is the last thing on his mind.
“I’m not worried about the split. What I’m worried about right now is coaching these kids and this team to be the best they can possibly be," he says.
And while the Hawks get one last season as the solo Bozeman area high school, it’ll be the perfect opportunity to showcase the new turf stadium.
“I’m really thankful for the school and the community for coming together to figure it out and getting it done. It’s going to be awesome," said junior Kenneth Eiden. "I think it will really help us as a team and as a school, you know, really grow in that aspect.”
The Hawks first game is Aug. 30 on the road against Kalispell Flathead.