BOZEMAN — Last Friday night, Bozeman High football wrote its name into history when it won the first-ever state title game at the new Van Winkle Stadium.
The Hawks beat Glacier 35-27 for the Class AA championship, capping off an undefeated season — one built on an unbreakable brotherhood.
"I never felt like we were going to lose a game," Hawks wide receiver and defensive back Rocky Lencioni said, reflecting on the season. "I just had tons of trust from playing around those guys for so long. I felt super confident in the guys to get it done every week."
"I think we knew before the season it was going to be special," Hawks quarterback and defensive back Kellen Harrison said. "I think we kind of knew that we were going to be good this year, and I think that we just kind of realized if we put in the work, we can make this really special."
This team fell in the state championship the previous year to Helena Capital and used it as motivation for this season, refusing to lose another game after the final gun sounded on the 2022 season in Helena.
"You win it for everyone who’s been in the brotherhood from the beginning until now," Hawks coach Levi Wesche said. "It’s everybody. We really don’t talk state championships at all. We talk about getting better one day at a time. We talk about upholding the standard and playing Hawk football."
The brotherhood is front and center and stems across every year of the program. And the coaches' guidance and mentorship will stick with these athletes long after this season.
"From the minute I came my freshman year, I looked up to the coaches," Hawks tight end and linebacker Quaid Ash said. "Coach Mobley, coach Wesche and coach Boyle have been like family to me. They taught me everything. They put me under their wing. They’re just unbelievable coaches, and also, I can call them my best friends. I know that throughout life, I’ll be able to turn to them if I ever need to."
For Harrison, this was his first season starting at quarterback at the varsity level, but with his high level of play from the jump, you wouldn’t be able to tell that. He capped off a stellar season with five total touchdowns in the team’s state title game.
"Just normal, just fun for me to be honest," Leniconi said Harrison's performance. "It makes my life so easy when Kellen plays like that, so that was really fun."
The true leader Harrison is, he attributed his high level of play to his teammates.
"I think I just relied on my teammates," Harrison explained. "They did a great job, and they helped me play well, and I have the utmost trust in my teammates. I think that’s why I was really comfortable playing."
Ash had two touchdowns and the game-clinching interception. After the game, Wesche described the tight end and linebacker as "the heart and soul of the team this year."
To leave his own stamp on the program is something he’ll always cherish.
"You know, it’s one thing to do it just to do it," Ash said. "But the fact that my brothers have been through here and set such a great mark in the program. I’m just very thankful that I have them to look up to. Just happy to get one too, just like my brothers."
Wesche noted he'll try and take more time to enjoy this championship before looking ahead to next season, as every great coach tends to do.