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Experience, running game powered Fairview to second 8-Man title in five years

Fairview state champions.jpg
Posted at 8:13 PM, Nov 21, 2023

BILLINGS — Experience is an invaluable attribute.

Fairview had plenty of that, as last Saturday’s state title game in Belt was the 11th playoff game for the senior class. It culminated in the program’s second 8-Man championship in five years.

“We've been working really hard for this. We deserve it. Our team has been good. We've been persistent for a while, and hard work pays off," said Fairview senior Tyler Loan.

“I can't be more proud of their effort. We preach effort all the time. Every team works hard. Usually in these situations you hear about 'You worked so hard, you desrve it.' Every team works hard. Otherwise why are you out here? The difference is who is going to put in that effort?" Fairview coach Derek Gackle said.

The Warriors shook off a defeat to Belt in last year’s semifinals and defeated the Huskies twice to bookend their season. It wasn’t just one guy for Fairview this year, as they spread the love around.

“We had guys waiting in the wings. Heck, we had six guys with double-digit touchdowns this year, so who you going to stop?" Gackle said. "(Saturday) we wanted to throw it, that didn't work out, so we went back to running it."

Gackle said it: The ground and pound resulted in a Fairview victory. It’s not like the running game was a surprise to Belt, but the Warrior execution proved vital.

“Surprisingly our line stepped up and said, 'Coach, we're ready. We can block these guys.' We just started hitting them with a lot of quick traps," Gackle said. "They're very good at getting off blocks and reading, so we tried to hit them with some quick traps up that gut, and that's what ultimately won us the game."

Saturday’s victory capped a perfect 12-0 season.