BOZEMAN — Ready or not, football season is right around the corner here in Montana, and the Bozeman Hawks are counting down the days for their season opener against Helena Capital.
Last year the program split into two with the addition of Bozeman Gallatin, but this is the first season they’re really starting to feel the effects of it.
“I think numbers-wise this is the first year where we’re feeling the overall effect," Bozeman Hawks head football coach Levi Wesche said. "We felt it last year numbers-wise a little bit. Not as much at the varsity level. As far as rebuilding though, every team rebuilds every year. Everybody graduates guys.”
But not every team graduates 27 guys. In 2020, the Hawks theoretically had more than enough seniors to fill every starting position on both sides of the ball, but this season is a much different story.
“It’s been a big change," Hawks senior Alden Nason said. "You know, having 27 seniors last year to only ten this year we’ve had to all take a bigger role in the leadership as where last year there were so many of them they could all kind of divide and conquer.”
One leader they’re feeling the loss of this season is Jordan Jones. The 6 foot, 3 inch quarterback helped lead the Hawks to a 6-3 season, which ended with a loss in the semifinals.
However, with no hesitation, junior Jake Casagranda has seemed to fill that void behind center already impressing his teammates and coaches.
“He’s competing," Wesche explained. "He’s smart. He has a great arm, and I’m really impressed with what he’s done for us.”
“He’s been a big leader, and he’s really stepped up," Hawks senior Jase Applebee added. "It’s been really good for all of us.”
There were a lot of men that got buried on the depth chart last season because of the senior talent ahead of them, so as week one approaches this year’s team is ready to prove themselves.
“You might have not seen it on the field, but we’ve just been working our butts off," Hawks senior Jaren Perkins said. "It’s nice that we finally get to show off all of our hard work - what we’ve been grinding for this whole time.”
“They’re all extremely hungry because they want that opportunity now to shine," Wesche added. "They feel like they have waited their turn, and it’s time now.”
The Hawks will make the trip to Helena next Friday, Aug. 27 to kick off their season against the Capital Bruins.