BOZEMAN — On Friday night, Bozeman dominated Great Falls CMR 63-19, but the biggest story was the return of Montana State commit Kenneth Eiden IV.
“It’s like that missing piece of the puzzle. Once that comes back, everything is just there, you get the whole picture and everything just glows and clicks," said Hawks senior quarterback Jordan Jones. "It's good to have him back, he’s a great player. The kid’s a beast.”
The atmosphere around the Hawks before kickoff felt electric due to the addition of Eiden, who has been out all year after ankle surgery.
“They trust me and I trust them, and I think they were just super excited to see me back out there playing, and I was super excited to be playing for them again,” said Eiden.
The senior captain was elected to represent the Hawks at the coin toss.
“That was exciting, I’ve been wanting to be a senior captain since middle school -- watching the Hawks play and for me to get to do that first game back, I was super excited,” Eiden said.
Once the coin toss was won, Bozeman head coach Levi Wesche said they had a plan to get Eiden out on the field right away.
“Having one of your captains back on the field is huge," Wesche said. "(Eiden) set the tone, that first play set the tone for the whole game. Our kids love that energy, we differed on purpose because we wanted the opportunity to see what (Eiden) was going to do for us.”
And he didn’t let his coach down. On the first play of the game, Eiden busted through the line to make a tackle for a loss.
“I just thought, 'I’m going to see how my ankle feels, I’m just going to go,'" Eiden said. "I just happened to be in the right spot. Coach called a good play, we had slant on, it just took me right there and I just made the play.”
Eiden seemed to be all over the field to start the game, but the Hawks are going to ease him back.
“He’s a difference maker. Eventually as we continue to work him in, and we’d like to see him play both ways again, but right now just what he does for our defense is really important and that was, I think, in 25 snaps," Wesche said. "He had 25 snaps, every snap he made a huge difference on. When you have guys like that you need them on the field and, obviously, we are better when he’s around.”
The Montana State commit will not be playing both ways for the Hawks until Wesche approves.
“We don’t want to push it too soon," said Wesche. "He’s definitely on a pitch count. We’re going to work within that pitch count no matter what. As he continues to get closer to full (speed), we’ll start using him. Right now, my goal is not to play him on any offense until I’m comfortable with where his ankle is at because I feel like getting tackled there’s a lot of people down on your lower leg.”
After rehabbing his ankle for 11 weeks, Eiden was just happy to be playing in his first game since he starred in last year’s state championship win.
"That was my first game since November, so it felt really good to get back out there and make sure for myself that I’m still playing well, I can still do it. It was super exciting to get back out there,” Eiden said.
Lastly, for Bobcat fans, Eiden is still pumped about his decision to stay home and play for Montana State next season.
“It’s awesome, it’s sweet, I love the Cats, coach (Jeff) Choate’s awesome," he said. "I just talked to him earlier this week. He’s always been supportive. It’s awesome to know I got them behind me.”