BUTTE — Plenty of Butte Central's football players were part of the Class A state basketball championship team in March.
Central head football coach Don Peoples Jr. is hoping to see that standard of winning carry over from the hardwood to the gridiron.
"You know I think the momentum of the state basketball tournament and championship has created a momentum in our school," Peoples said. "And hopefully that'll carry on from basketball to football."
The Maroons have a straightforward goal this season — return to the Class A playoffs after missing the postseason in 2020 and 2021. That two-year playoff drought is a first for Peoples, who took over Central's program in 1989 and last season earned his 200th win. But he's not dwelling on that accomplishment now.
"I really didn't think about it and I still don't," Peoples said. "It's probably something I'll look at when I'm retired. It's just about this team, this season. These kids we have on the football field. And that's all that really matters right now."
Central returns eight starters on both offense and defense. One key missing piece is running back Eyston Lakkala who totaled eight touchdowns last season. Lakkala and then-junior Konnor Pochervina shared carries last year and now Pochervina is ready to become the lead back.
"It gives me a lot of motivation," Pochervina said. "I just gotta step up and be a really good back this year."
Central opens the season at home on Aug. 26 against Polson. The Pirates advanced to the Class A semifinals last season and will provide a tough test for the Maroons in Week 1.
"That's a really hard opener but we're going to be ready to play," Peoples said. "We've worked hard all summer and our kids are motivated. We're going to be ready to play that night."