BUTTE — Senior quarterback Bo Demarais spent the past three seasons patiently waiting in the wings and learning under three-year starting Butte High QB Jace Stenson, who has since graduated and joined Montana Tech's program.
After getting plenty of reps with the JV squad, Demarais' number has finally been called. He'll be the Bulldogs QB1 one as Butte gears up to open its season on the road this Friday against Billings West in the first of two AA non-conference games to start the 2023 campaign.
"I'm just super excited, I feel ready to go," said Demarais at a Monday practice at Naranche Stadium. "I've been waiting my turn, I'm just excited."
The Bulldogs, who went 5-6 last season and advanced to the quarterfinals where they fell to eventual champion Helena Capital, have largely enjoyed stability at quarterback the past several years, with Stenson guiding Butte from 2020-22 and before that Tommy Mellott from 2017-19.
Butte coach Arie Grey trusts that Demarais will be a worthy successor.
"Bo will be the first guy out there and he'll do a great job," said Grey. "He knows what we're doing and he does a nice job with the ball and does a good job of spreading it out. He understands our concepts and our schemes and what's going on. And he's just a good kid and a good leader."
Grey stressed the importance of surrounding with Demarais with weapons and one of Butte's most potent will likely be sophomore Hudson Luedtke, who is the Bulldogs top returning receiver. Luedtke hauled in six touchdown receptions last season, trailing Cameron Gurnsey who is now at Montana.
"For (Luedtke) to continue to progress and see what he can do and add more things to our plate is our plan," said Grey.
The Bulldogs also return senior Trey Hansen who was Butte's most productive running back last season as well as sophomore Cayde Stajcar who was a weapon on both sides of the ball.
Butte will host Bozeman next Friday in a home opener that will see the Bulldogs and Hawks clash for the first time since the 2019 Class AA state championship. These two non-conference contests will ultimately give Butte a chance to assess where they're at as they gear up to open Western AA play on the road against Missoula Big Sky.
"Game week's that special week and it's exciting and it's fun and it's great," said Grey. "But we're still using it as an opportunity to get better and that's what it's all about."