GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls CMR football team officially hit the field for practice this week, entering a new era under new head coach Dennis Morris. Class AA elected to cancel non-conference competition this fall due to COVID-19. The Rustlers would have liked a full schedule, but they’re finding plenty of positives in this situation too.
The Rustlers won't return a lot of starting experience from last year's team that finished 2-7. But to make sure that’s not an issue, they’ve been working out together in small, COVID-safe position groups all summer to strengthen team bonds and learn the new playbook.
"The fun part of it is, is a leader comes out in each group, and it's fun to see those leaders and then you start to wish that you could get those leaders together, but we haven't been able to, until (Monday), get them out here," Morris said. "So I've watched a lot of different guys step up and lead and in three different groups and there's about six kids that come together. And I feel like we have a really good core of leaders."
One of those leaders is senior safety Joe Stevenson, who was impressed with his team's productivity this summer.
"Kids have been working their butt off all summer long gone," Stevenson said. "We're a little bit inexperienced, but I think we make up for that in the weight room and on the field right now. And I think we're all ready for the season, and we're all excited."
That leadership, plus the delayed start to the schedule could be a big boost for coach Morris in his first year at the helm of his alma mater.
"It's almost a blessing in disguise for me as a brand new head coach and a new system coming in. We got a lot of work done over the summer and the kids learned about half, maybe three quarters of the playbook. So they are a little bit ahead," Morris said. "But to get our everyday routine and meeting times and practice times and field times, to have a little extra time to get that prepared as a brand new head coach, is a blessing in disguise."
The Rustlers start off against Belgrade on Sept. 11.