GREAT FALLS — While practice could’ve started last week, the Great Falls High Bison are finally on the football field to start the 2020 season. With Class AA not beginning games until the second week of September, head coach Mark Samson said the later start on practice isn’t a big deal.
"We're not going to grind them to death. You know, we're going to work them hard. We're really good at setting our practice schedules up," he said. "Some coaches started on Monday, but they're not going to be practicing six days a week for four weeks. You can't do that with high school kids. So we're going to pick and choose when we can lighten up a little bit, maybe give them a day off here and there."
That’s not to say the Bison are taking it easy. Last season, they saw several close losses against quality teams and a first-round playoff exit. Great Falls has the athletes to get over the hump this year, but with a short schedule and zero non-conference games, there’s no time to mess around.
"I told people all summer, I have kids this year that are as good as anybody in the state of Montana at certain positions," Samson said. "Now it's just a matter of, don't make a lot of mistakes. We got to stay healthy. And, you know, Game 1 is going to mean just as much to us now as Game 7 because they're all conference, so from Day 1 we're going to be fighting for position for playoffs."
The Bison will rely on some young talent at key positions, like sophomore Reed Harris at quarterback, who noted the importance of a strong start.
"Winning the first game always sets the tempo," he said.
Upperclassmen like all-state wide receiver Levi Torgerson are confident in the abilities of the newcomers.
"We got three and a half weeks longer than we've had been for our first game and so I think our (younger players) should be fine," he said. "They'll have a little jitters first game. It always happens, but they just got to play."