GREAT FALLS — Now in their third year of the Dennis Morris era, the Great Falls CMR football team is hitting the ground running as they make their way through their preseason training camp.
When Morris first arrived for the 2020 season, there was a big learning curve with a new system and complete rebuild of the program, but now, the Rustlers were able to hit the ground running.
“We’re miles ahead right now and it just takes time,” Morris said. “Any time somebody uproots a program and turns it over, it takes time to learn those things.”
The confidence in training camp isn’t the first glimmer of change for the better though as last season, the Rustlers started the season 5-1, good enough to earn them a playoff spot despite losing their last four games.
Despite the change in winning culture, the upperclassmen and leaders like senior Archie LaFurge and Anthony Okes know that they need to play complete games and not halves, in order to win in Class AA.
“We need a stronger second half in the game,” LaFurge said. “Last year, our energy would definitely die off in the locker room at halftime. I think that all that needs to change for sure. “
“We slowed down,” Okes added. “It kind of dropped off, but [we’re] totally going to change that this year.”
After losing offensive playmakers like Jackson Simonson and Raef Newbrough on the offensive side, the scheme is the same for the 2022 Rustlers: play hard and play fast.
“I think that as long as I'm in charge here, that's always going to be our advantage,” Morris explained. “We're going to play as fast as we can.”
This year, the hope is to have playmakers across the field not just at two positions with senior Cole Taylor under center, LaFurge in the backfield and multiple receivers to give the high tempo offense multiple options to score.
“We've made sure we run a lot cleaner with our plays and we know them faster so we can run them faster and we've just we've moved guys to better positions,” LaFurge said.
Now five days into training camp, the sights have started to set on Great Falls CMR’s first opponent: Missoula Hellgate.
When asked about the most exciting thing ahead of the first game, the answer was simple for LaFurge: “Winning. Winning with the team.”
The Rustlers host Missoula Hellgate Aug. 26 at home in Memorial Stadium.