Two of the preseason 6-Man favorites kick off in a marquee season-opening matchup on Friday night when Big Sandy hosts Jordan.
Neither team has regularly been mentioned among Montana’s elite. They’ve combined for just four total championship appearances — no wins — with Jordan making its first trip to the title game last fall. The Mustangs fell to Wibaux 70-27 in the 2018 championship.
With all but one player returning from that team, though, expectations are uncharacteristically high in Garfield County.
“I think the community is very excited to support the team and what they’re doing. It’s obviously fairly new territory for Garfield County, so we’re trying to make the most of it,” said Jordan head coach Wyatt Colvin.
Colvin, a 1983 graduate from Jordan, served as an assistant last season but 2019 will be his first year as the Mustangs’ head coach.
With the unfamiliar expectations comes more unfamiliar responsibilities: media interviews.
“This is completely out of my wheelhouse being a first-year head coach,” Colvin laughed. “I don’t know how much of it’s been done in the past before I was involved with the high school program, but it’s definitely different for me.”
Beyond the newfound attention, Colvin and the Mustangs will be able to turn to familiar faces on the field. Keenan Murnion, Cole Murnion and Ed Murnion return after all-state seasons in 2018. Ben McRae is back this season, as well, after recovering from an injury suffered last fall. He’ll provide the Mustangs with even more speed.
Junior Derek Reis, who made big strides over the course of last season and this offseason, figures to be another key player this fall for Jordan, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re trying to get better on defense than where we played last year, that’s our big goal right now,” Colvin said. “We’ll find out (Friday at Big Sandy) how we did.”
Friday’s season-opening game will present Jordan with the challenge of slowing down Big Sandy’s vaunted rushing attack. The Pioneers have two all-state running backs — Kade Strutz and Brock Proulx — back this season among a wealth of returning talent.
Win or lose Friday, the road likely won’t get much easier for Jordan once it enters conference play in the always-competitive 6-Man East, which features defending state champion Wibaux, 2017 state champion Westby-Grenora and high-scoring Richey-Lambert.
“Right now we’re taking one game at a time, and the boys are pretty focused on this first game,” Colvin said. “I think they’ll be able to do the work.”