DEER LODGE — The 2018 season could be one that the Deer Lodge Wardens wish they could’ve had back. The potential to make the playoffs and make a run were always in the blueprints to what head coach Corey Freeman schemed up every week. But the dominoes didn’t fall into place, and that’s something coach Freeman will be sure to correct this year.
“We were in every game, and then we kind of just lost all our composure when we started getting tired," said Freeman. "And I think this year I’m keeping the legs fresh, we’re conditioning. But I think you’re going to see the Warden program this year will be in every game, but making it even more interesting in the third and fourth quarter because now we’re going to have our legs underneath us.”
The responsibility to make sure the whole team is all-in on what is trying to be accomplished falls into the hands of guys like Keith Kippenhan and Judd Applegate.
“They got to look up to us. Like right now we’re running practice by ourselves, and I mean it works good because then those kids trust us on the field a lot and they really look up to us," said Applegate, Deer Lodge's senior quarterback. "So we just got to be out there and be vocal and kind of tell kids what to do. And if they listen then everything works right.”
Warden fans can expect a whole new approach to the 2019 season.
“My philosophy is next man up," added Freeman. "And I think these kids have adapted to that. We’re going to be quick and strong instead of big and strong.”
Above all else, what Deer Lodge brings to every practice and every game is a tight-knit unit ready to go out and show the rest of the state that the Wardens mean business.
“These guys right here are the guys we’ve been playing with forever," Applegate said. "I don’t think I’ve never not played with any of these kids before like junior high. So we kind of know how each other play, so we know what to expect, we all want to win. It’s that friendship we have that excites everyone. We want to go do something with this last year.”
The Wardens kick off the 2019 season Friday on the road against Conrad.