FLORENCE — After a win against Red Lodge last Saturday, the Florence Falcons are heading to another state championship football game, and Florence is looking to become the first team in Class B history to win three straight state titles.
Although the Falcons find themselves in familiar territory heading to another state title game behind an undefeated season, the message this coaching staff — led by head coach Pat Duchien — has preached all year has been focusing on the present and not the past.
“This is their team," Duchien said. "It’s 2023. It’s not 2021, it’s not 2022. We try not to compare ourselves to any of the previous teams, and it's been kind of fun. It's been fun to watch them in their own unique way, you know, have success this year. I’m just hoping that they can maintain it this week and have one more game of success.”
One of the unique ways this team has formed a strong bond has been the players' ability to keep their teammates in check.
Florence defensive end and team captain Ethan Alexander said the team’s closeness is one of the keys to their success.
“It’s pretty easy for us to hold each other accountable because we all know what everyone’s going through and we can, rather than a coach, like, yelling at him, we can help him out where a coach can’t because we all know what’s going on in each other’s lives," Alexander said. "And we can just help them how a coach won’t.”
It's a remarkable run for Florence, a program that hadn't won a state title in football since 1977 until it accomplished it the past two seasons.
A win on Saturday would be historical for the Falcons, though, according to Duchien, the thought of accomplishing what no one else has done has not quite settled in for the team.
“Honestly, everybody would probably feel the same of, you know, well, there really is a true legacy that we all can put our names on in that, so it would be a special feeling," Duchien said. "We’re all going to feel the same, same feeling definitely.”
Florence kicks off against Manhattan High School in Manhattan at 1 p.m. Saturday.