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Helena Capital's Vaughn Wirkus continues football journey with commitment to Montana State

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jul 09, 2024

HELENA — Helena Capital senior Vaughn Wirkus fulfilled one of his football dreams when he committed to play Division I football for Montana State last Friday.

But achieving that goal was a process that Wirkus and his position coach said didn’t happen overnight.

Beginning in the fall of 2025, Wirkus will suit up as a right tackle for the Bobcats. But Wirkus’ journey to D-I started about three years earlier — when he got his first high school start during his sophomore season.

“I think sophomore year is when it really started,” said Wirkus. “That’s when I started my first game. And, man, I was so nervous. Gosh, I was shaking before the game and everything. But once I got out there and had that first hit, I thought, 'Man, this is the sport for me.'"

“It’s like nothing else I’ve ever done in my life,” Wirkus continued. “You get the opportunity to go out there and hit someone. And, I mean, you don’t get to do that in everyday life.”

But Wirkus said his football accomplishments would not have been possible without the mentorship of Capital’s offensive line coach, Jim Hogan.

“The neat characteristic about this whole development process is getting to know the individual and finding out what the young man’s goals are,” said Hogan. “And really a goal that he had on the top of his list was to go on and play college football.”

Wirkus praised his coach’s mentality and work ethic.

“I mean, he’s a great coach,” said Wirkus. “He’s been coaching for over 40 years. He knows what he’s talking about. And he can get on your tail sometimes. But that’s what I think I like the most about him. He’s not afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong. He’s not afraid to yell at you. It’s tough love, but it’s there for sure.”

Hogan said getting the opportunity to watch Wirkus’ growth as a player and person has been inspiring.

“It really is inspiring to me,” said Hogan. “Because I know, in talking to these young men, the direction that I can get them as long as they’re willing to jump in the boat. And we’ll all take that ride together.”

Wirkus said he hopes his ride can inspire others.

“If anyone has any dreams out there, don’t give up man,” said Wirkus. “I didn’t think I was going to be playing college football — even in middle school, at the beginning of high school. Things changed for sure. I’d say go chase your dreams.”