MILES CITY -- Miles City capped its undefeated season this past weekend with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball in the Class A football state championship game. The Cowboys' defense was among the best in the state all season, but it was the potent offense, especially the duo of quarterback Carson Hunter and wide receiver Jess Bellows, that has grabbed the headlines.
"They're both special kids, hard workers," Miles City head coach Jeff Regan said. "Jess is just a fantastic athlete and great leader. Carson is just a phenomenal football player. I think he's one of the best in the state. Those two really are just great players."
Hunter set Eastern A records with 36 touchdown passes and just north of 2,500 passing yards. Hunter also had a game this season where he tossed eight touchdown passes, tying a Class A single-game record. More than half of Hunter’s production this season went to Bellows, who finished with Eastern A records of 1,296 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"All that hard work in the offseason, all the time in the bowl, all the practices, things we went through. I can't really put that into words, but it all paid off," Bellows said.
"It's a crazy journey with him and the rest of our team. I think it's been a testament to who we are," Hunter said. "We put in the work since we were in seventh, eighth grade, and we knew we had a shot. We knew we had something going."
That hard work led Hunter and Bellows to have one of the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver connections in Class A history, leaving their names scattered throughout the record books. Bellows is one of just nine Class A receivers with 2,000 career receiving yards and is in the top five of nearly every receiving category.
Bellows’ 222-yard performance in the Class A title game against Laurel broke Havre legend, University of Montana standout and NFL Pro Bowl selection Marc Mariani’s record of 220, which he set in Havre’s 2004 title-game win over Billings Central.
"Carson and I are super close," Bellows said. "That goes through all the sports -- baseball, track, all of it. We've been really tight. It makes a difference. We've got each other's backs."
"Chemistry (has been) huge for us. I feel that we never really had a bad practice this year, and I think that's just the standard that we set for ourselves and the expectations that we felt," Hunter said in the aftermath of Miles City's state title. "This was the expectation. This was the goal. This was everything we wanted. That definitely translated form practice to on the field."
The connection between Hunter and Bellows will go down as one of the most electric in Class A history. Hunter will return in 2020 with a chance to lead the Cowboys to their second consecutive state title and improve upon his otherworldly stats. Bellows will be playing baseball next year at South Dakota State University.