BUTTE — Arie Grey has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he's opened his team's seasons at the stroke of midnight on the day that high school football practices open across Montana.
"I always tell people 'you're not going to sleep tonight anyways cause you're so excited,'" reasoned Grey, who implemented "Midnight Madness" a decade ago.
"Ten years ago is when we started this, it was the energy the kids like I think, they enjoyed the fact they get to start earlier," added Grey.
As always, there's high anticipation for the Bulldogs' upcoming season, and there's a strong drive to prove that this team has grown from the one that made an early Class AA playoff exit last year when Butte was eliminated in the quarterfinals at home by Kalispell Glacier. The Bulldogs concluded the 2021 season at 6-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play.
Butte will open its 2022 campaign at home against Billings Senior on Thursday, Aug. 27 before hitting the road for two weeks for games against Great Falls and Helena.
The Bulldogs have some key pieces to replace. On offense, all-state wide receiver Dylan Snyder is now with Montana State football. And on special teams, standout kicker Casey Kautzman — who last year set the Butte High school record with a 51-yard field goal — is also at MSU.
Key starting offensive returners are senior quarterback Jace Stenson who racked up 18 passing touchdowns and five rushing scores. The Bulldogs also return wideout Cameron Gurnsey who averaged over 100 receiving yards per game.
This will be Grey's 15th year at the helm of Butte High football. Through the years, his coaching philosophy has remained constant — improve a little every day.
"We needed to start the year and we needed to get going and I'm proud of our kids for what they did in the offseason," Grey said. "We'll see what we can do. If we just focus on getting our one percent better, we'll be alright."