After it was closed in 2018 for renovation and resurfacing, the Great Falls CMR Rustler football team is opening fall camp on the venerable Jack Johnson Pride Field.
"For me and a lot of the coaches it’s real special to be back on here,” said sixth-year head coach Gary Lowry. “These kids have never been on this field for the most part, so it’s special to be back here at this beautiful facility we have now. And I hope these kids realize how nice it is to be back on Pride field, because it means a lot to the rest of us.”
But the Rustlers open fall camp with heavy hearts. Their teammate, senior linebacker David Delcomte, passed away tragically less than a month ago. And though his presence is missed, there’s no better place for the players to heal than on the field with their brothers.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” admitted senior wide receiver Keegan Barnes. “In the locker room and stuff, (David’s) presence isn’t there. So it’s bitter in that way, but it’s sweet in the fact that (football) is what brings us all together and we know that, so we can all join together over this.”
And there’s no better way to honor their fallen teammate than to give maximum effort in every practice, every play and every game and to make this season a special one.
“We’re going to put in all of our effort, give 100 percent in everything we do,” said running back Logan Richard. “And every game is going to be for him and he’s going to help us win those games.”
And the Rustlers have the team to carve out some space in the AA. The Rustlers finished the season a disappointing 2-8 in 2018, as they dealt with injuries and worked in new starters. But last year’s youth is this year’s experience. With many returning varsity starters suiting up for the green and gold the Rustlers expect to return to contention in Class AA.
“I think we’re a lot older this year. We were young last year and we had to fill in some spots,” said quarterback Bryce Nelson. “We have a couple young kids but this group of seniors - we have a little bit more leadership and that’s what it comes down to. In and out of practice, doing the right thing.”
The Rustlers hope that the right things add up to a big thing. And they’re reminded of what they play for every day.
“Every time you come out here, you come through those fences you see the state championship banners,” said Barnes. “You know how many we have, everybody repeats it. We know what we need to do, we know how to get it done. It’s a tradition out here.”
“CMR football means pride, being humble and representing your school out here on the field. Having fun.”
The Rustlers open the season Aug. 30 on the road at Helena High.