HELENA — The Capital Bruins football program is preparing for their first state championship appearance since 2011, and their first with Kyle Mihelish at head coach. Mihelish has been with the program since 2005, and has been an assistant coach in six state championships, four where the Bruins took home the title.
“Championship game and we go to Billings West. And we get after them. I want to say we sack the quarterback, I want to say, eight or nine times. So that was when we got it. Defense has got to show up in big games,” the current head coach recalls of the 2011 championship game.
The coach he spent those championship seasons under was Pat Murphy, who headed the program for 11 years. Mihelish says he learned consistency, organization, and good communication from Murphy. Murphy calls Mihelish his ‘best hire’.
“He made me a smart coach. I think he doesn't get credit enough for what he's done for the AA classification. Before he came into the league, everybody was kind of just running up field in pass rush mode. He kind of changed the entire defense of the league, we started seeing people start squeezing and using his techniques and kind of constructing the run game,” Murphy said.
When Mihelish took over the program in 2015, he was taking over a one-win program.
"We made a lot of progress. I know that first season as a head coach, I want to say we went to the semi finals. We had a pretty good squad there. So we turned it around. But you know, it's credit to the guys," Mihelish said.
Now that his once-defensive line coach is headed to a state championship of his own, Murphy couldn't be more proud.
“Oh, really proud of coach Mihelish, I think he's been close so many times. Great coach, I think his asset is he has a tremendous rapport with this student athletes and and the administration and in the community,” the former Bruins coach said.
When it comes to Friday night, Murphy is still rooting for the Bru.
“I keep big tabs and I still have their Hudl account. I still have account on Capitals Hudl account, so I've watched the games every weekend.”
Kick off for Friday’s State Championship game is set for 7 p.m at Vigilante Stadium.