GREAT FALLS -- High school football teams in the Electric City received the go-ahead to begin offseason workouts earlier this month and both C.M. Russell and Great Falls High are taking full advantage of their time.
At Great Falls High, where the Bison have set up a temporary weight room below the grandstands at Memorial Stadium, there’s some urgency. After a three-month hiatus while facilities and meetings were shut down in the wake of COVID-19, the Bison are making up for lost time.
“When track season got canceled and all of spring sports got canceled, it was definitely kind of surreal, everything kind of happened really fast,” said GFH senior lineman Nathan Kovick. “But I think the fact that we get to kind of get going on football and get to start lifting is really cool.”
But it’s not quite business as usual. The teams are training in staggered sessions to limit group sizes and taking precautions while lifting.
“We got to be six feet apart,” said GFH senior tight end Hunter Boyd. “You can have only one lifting partner and we got to wash everything right after we're done using it. Just keep everything safe first and last.”
Across town at CMR, the Rustlers are getting their first opportunity to work with new head coach Dennis Morris, who took over the program in early March.
“We were all going a little stir crazy during COVID-19 shutdown and we tried to start our workouts online,” Morris said. “The kids did a good job, but our excitement was high to get started in person. And when they finally gave us the green light, the kids couldn't wait to get out of the house, which is a phenomenal way to start our new program.”
The time away has helped the players learn not to take sports or a season for granted.
“When we're at school, everybody's begging to go home,” laughed CMR senior lineman Tyler Marr. “Then after like the third week of quarantine you're like, ‘Oh, please get me back to school.' You want to be with everybody. So, it was definitely different. We just had to adapt and just move with that, move with the roller coaster. But it makes us appreciate the opportunity to get back out here.”
But most of all, it’s a small step toward normalcy for two teams that have high hopes for the fall.
“The world needs sports,” said GFH head coach Mark Samson. “The world needs something that we can watch and enjoy and participate in. We’re slowly getting there, and I know we still have precautions and I know there's still things we worry about, but hopefully things will work in our favor and we’ll be able to play this fall.”
Both teams are still planning youth camps in mid-July.