BOZEMAN — One of Bozeman Gallatin's biggest strengths coming into this season was its amount of returning players.
But a large factor in the team's 2-0 start has come from a newer duo, a pair of brothers from a Gallatin football family that was more than prepared for the moment.
Reese and Carter Dahlke didn’t waste any time making their own mark on the Raptors. In Gallatin's first game against defending state champion Helena Capital, the two put their team on the board first by combining on a 30-yard touchdown pass.
“It was really exciting for me, kind of emotional too," Reese Dahlke, a junior quarterback, said. "I was really juiced up. That was my first varsity passing touchdown; it went to my brother which is really special. So that’s just important to me. We’ve been playing a long time and just being able to throw him the ball was pretty sweet.”
What made the play even more special was that it was not only Reese's first passing touchdown on varsity, but also Carter's first varsity touchdown reception as well.
Carter is a sophomore wide receiver and corner back. He also is a punt returner for their special teams.
“It takes me back to YMCA games," Carter Dahlke reflected. "Just all the practice we’ve put in, to see it come and work out, that was really awesome. The first touchdown, I was a little bit starstruck, I didn’t really comprehend what happened. But just having the first touchdown reception come from him, it meant a lot.”
Football runs in the family for the Dahlkes. Reese and Carter’s two older brothers, Garrett and Noah, led the Raptors program during their time at Gallatin and set a foundation.
“Seeing Noah and Garrett do it two years ago, it’s something I’ve been dreaming about and thinking about for a long time," Carter said. "This year's just been everything I could imagine, and then I’m just excited for the next year with him.”
Reese noted how he was ready to come into the role as quarterback for the team this season because of all the preparation and mentorship from his older brothers.
“Going into the games I was pretty confident between my brothers and just the senior leadership, and the confidence that they had instilled in me, and I was just ready to go play," Reese said.
Raptors coach Hunter Chandler has now worked with all four Dahlke brothers, and he knew the level of play and leadership Reese and Carter were going to bring this year.
“I think we both knew what’s in their DNA and just how competitive they are, how poised they are and all the work they put in," Chandler said. "They’re two kids that don’t miss workouts in the weight room. They don’t miss camps. They make it to everything. They’ll stay late.”
Off the field, it's exactly what you would expect from a group of brothers — they're normally playing sports in the yard. And the competition carries its way into everything they do.
“Going back the last 13 years or whatever, just playing with two older brothers, three older brothers counting him, a lot of competition, but it’s always fun-loving," Carter said.
Chandler has seen the level of competition between all the brothers in every aspect of the game, but it's made them better as players and more game-ready.
“You know, I think those guys growing up in that competitive environment has really helped them become athletes," Chandler said. "You can just tell they compete at everything. And they’re also really good in the classroom. They have really good grades. They stay out of trouble. Good teammates, so awesome all the way around.”
There’s pressure in being next up to carry the family legacy, but with the way they’ve started this season with the Raptors, they’re on track to make some history of their own.
Up next for the No. 2 Raptors, they're at Billings Senior on Friday at 7 p.m.