FORT BENTON — There’s a lot of optimism for the 2020 football season in Fort Benton.
The Longhorns return a powerful squad that advanced to the 8-Man semifinals last year before falling to eventual state champion Fairview.
“I feel like we just got kind of unfinished business,” said senior receiver Hayden Diekhans. “We were contenders. I feel like we got a lot of unfinished business we have to take care of this year.”
And, in the middle of a global pandemic that has many larger teams and schools walking on egg shells, the Longhorns live in an area where social distancing is the norm.
“There's zero (COVID-19) cases and Chouteau County and we're feeling feeling good about things,” said head coach Jory Thompson. “We're getting to play the game of football. And that's really what these guys want to do. We’re thankful for every day that we get to play.”
Thompson has looked at the current situation from all sides. He’s a coach, the parent of a senior, and the superintendent of Fort Benton schools.
“It’s been really difficult balancing everything,” he said. “Obviously it's a a very strong, very contagious virus. And so we need to be careful within reason. But we need to not live in fear. I think that we need to still live our life and provide the opportunities for our children that they deserve to have.”
The pandemic has already taken away a chance at a basketball trophy. The Longhorns were scheduled play in the third-place game at the State C tournament in March before the tournament was called off.
COVID-19 wiped away a spring sports season where the Longhorns were favored to win a state track title. So far, the fall is moving forward. The Longhorns are scheduled to play at Ennis on Friday night to open the season, and Fort Benton’s five seniors are grateful.
“It was kind of hard for us missing spring,” said senior running back Jace Thompson. “So, I think we're just kind of hoping this season is the whole season and just hoping for the best, trying to play as hard as we can every day, beause you never know when it might get taken away.”