BILLINGS -- Saturday afternoon’s matchup between East Helena and Lockwood pit two brand new programs up against each other. Both are playing with just freshmen this season, something that the coaches were thankful for.
“This was a great experience for us. This has been our first full game. Playing all four quarters was tough, it was kind of eye-opening for us, but it was a tremendous experience. We had a lot of growth. We see where we need to get better now.”
“They were excited all week. They knew that they had this one circled on their calendar since the schedules were set. For them to compete against other freshmen – similar ages, similar sizes, similar development – it makes for the easiest and fairest playing ground.”
Playing on Herb Klindt Field on the campus of Rocky Mountain College was a pretty special experience for the kids, too.
“The experience to play in a venue like this with the tunes playing on turf, we have announcers, freshmen level doesn’t get this a lot. To be able to have this experience is great for them. They were stoked when they walked in here about 11 o’clock.”
Coaches and players alike for East Helena and Lockwood have been focused on building a culture and environment that can lead to the program’s success in the future, not necessarily worrying about results in the present.
“We want to, as best as possible, build on every year and do as good as we can and just keep getting better and better, and we want to leave something behind that other people can keep going on.”
“It’s extremely important, because they don’t have seniors and juniors to really look up to, so us as coaches have to set the foundation, but really it’s on some of our leaders within that freshmen class. They take it upon themselves to set that culture.”
“We have a strong foundation, looking positive going forward. I tell these kids every day we’re building for the future. This year we wanted to get better and prepare for the future, because nobody is going to look back and see how you did as a freshman. We’re preparing for our junior season when we’re competing at the varsity level and just building for that success right now.”
East Helena pulled out a thrilling win over Lockwood, 18-14, on a go-ahead rushing touchdown from about 50 yards out by Howell with under four minutes to play.