KALISPELL — Kalispell Flathead football is getting ready for its 2021 season with new coach Alex Cummings. Cummings, a Missoula native, was an assistant coach for six years with the program, but now the biggest question is: What will the new culture look like for the Braves with Cummings in charge?
"He is bringing a family-type culture. It was here and he is bringing it back," quarterback Jackson Walker said. "We are doing team bonding and trying to become closer, more like brothers."
"I think it is a huge benefit for me to have been an assistant here for (six) years," Cummings said. "I think we had a very good culture built in. When I got here, there is 100 years of tradition here. I think the biggest challenge for me now is, you come off of the 2018 season, state title run, and then you kind of have two down years, where I basically tried to take it down to the studs and rebuild it the way that I wanted it.
"And I think the kids have done a really good job of buying into me and kind of what culture I am trying to build."
After finishing runner-up in the state championship game in 2018 to Billings West, the Braves have gone 2-15 over the last two seasons, including an 0-7 mark in 2020.
Those kids have gone though some growing pains the past two years, but Cummings hopes he’ll start seeing some growth from it. While the team is predominantly sophomores and juniors, there’s also 11 seniors to help set the tone.
"I think we are going to be pretty young again. I think we are pretty heavy sophomore and junior class, small senior class. Which is just the way it goes sometimes. But I think the seniors we have are doing a good job at setting the tone and doing things the way that they should be done here," said Cummings. "I say it everyday, the standard is the standard, we have to do everything in this program the right way, and that starts from the little things. We have to make sure we are on time, we have to make sure we are doing the right thing in the community. We are holding ourselves accountable not only for ourselves for our teammates as well."
"We are young but we are growing, and there are a lot of other teams out there, so we're just going to try and be better every day and just keep going," added Walker.
That camaraderie extends into the stands where the team’s MVP will return: the fans. And nobody is more excited about that than the team.
"I am super excited, it is so weird when it is just quiet and limited, so it is going to be fun to have the fans back in the student section so that will definitely be fun," said Walker.