GREAT FALLS — The first crosstown start of Reed Harris’ football career was an interesting one: Temperatures at kickoff were in the teens, a couple inches of snow caked the field, and some significant playoff seeding was on the line.
But Harris, a sophomore, had a good feeling before the game, and that good feeling turned out to be right. Great Falls High flattened past rival Great Falls CMR 35-7.
"The tensions were really high. Everybody was energetic. There was a great atmosphere before the game, and coming into it we knew that it was going to be a really good game," he said.
If tensions were high, you couldn’t tell from Harris. He did a little bit of everything in the win: a 52-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter, two throwing touchdowns to Levi Torgerson, and even some solid punts that pinned the Rustlers deep in their own territory.
"He's pretty good, isn't he?" said Great Falls High head coach Mark Samson. "I've been telling people all year he's pretty darn good. He's got a lot of composure. He's above his age, as far as how he plays this game. He hates to lose. And you can see he could make big plays, and we need it. And that's what the quarterback has to do in our system."
"Early in the year, I was always telling him, ‘Hey, you don't have to win games for us. Just don't lose them,'" Samson continued. "But now we're looking and I'm saying, 'Now you're going to win games for us.'"
The past two weeks for Great Falls High, Harris has connected with Torgerson for five touchdowns. Torgerson, who knows a thing a two about making big plays, had high praise for his quarterback.
"He's making plays that not a lot of people can make. He's rolling out of the pocket, throwing on the run. He's got exceptional talent, and I can't wait to see where he goes or where he ends up because I love having him at quarterback," Torgerson said.
"We've been building a really big connection as the season's been going," Harris said. "And I wish (Torgerson) could stay here another year. ... And we're going to have a really good time going into the playoffs."
Speaking of playoffs, Great Falls High will hope that connection continues to be fruitful. But the Bison don’t necessarily need to bank on it. While Harris may have lit up the stat sheet, the crosstown game shows the Bison have plenty to feel good about.
"Defensively, I know my defensive front played really well. I'm very proud," Samson said. "This was a big game for us, not just because it's crosstown. This is going to get us at home game next week, we're going to play (Billings) Skyview again, we'll be ready to go."
Harris and the Bison have worked through a tough four-week stretch in the middle of the season. Their Homecoming game was canceled due to COVID-19, and they went through three losses to the teams ahead of them in the standings. But even in those losses, Great Falls High showed glimpses of excellence. Now, after back-to-back wins to finish the regular season, they feel it’s all coming together just in time.
"We've kind of just got our roll together and over the past couple of weeks. I think we found our groove and it's perfect timing right now. Playoff time," Torgerson said.
"We have really good chances. We're going to make it as far as we want to," Harris said.