BOZEMAN — On Friday night, the No. 3-seeded Bozeman Hawks are heading to Billings to take on the top-seeded Billings West. West got the best of the Hawks the last time the teams faced off, but Bozeman is looking to get the win this time and head back to the state championship.
“We’re all feeling just super excited to get after it and get that revenge game against West,” said Bozeman senior defensive end Luke Fedyk.
“I think we're as prepared as we can be," said Hawks head coach Levi Wesche. "We know we got a huge challenge in front of us, but I think we’re ready.”
Losing 23-19 on Oct. 23, the Hawks know what they have to change in order to beat the Golden Bears this time around.
“We were in the red zone five times, came out of there with four field goals, that’s not what we need," Wesche said. "We need to be able to score when we get inside the 20, we got to make sure we're putting the ball in the end zone. That’s the biggest thing I think we took away. The other thing is, can’t have costly turnovers. We had a turnover right before half that ended up costing us points. We got to cut that out as well."
West is led by quarterback Isaiah Claunch, who has thrown for 27 touchdowns and has almost 1,900 yards through the air.
“He’s got a cannon of an arm," said Fedyk. "He’s really good at getting the ball out quick. He’s also really good at working the pocket so it’s going to be a challenge, but our D-line is up for it, we’re excited to get after it.”
The Hawks will need Montana State commits and defensive ends Kenneth Eiden IV and Fedyk to put pressure on the Golden Bears' QB.
“If we can be active up front, beat blocks and put pressure on the quarterback, we’re going to have a pretty good day," Wesche said. "If we can't do that, we’re going to struggle.”
However, for his team to even get to this point with a hectic offseason and COVID-19, Wesche is proud of the resiliency of his squad.
“I think what our team has done even up to this point getting to the (semifinals) shows a lot of resiliency and the ability to overcome the obstacles placed in their path," said the Hawks' head coach. "I think that’s going to be the legacy of this senior class whether they get to the title game or not, they’re just a resilient bunch of kids."
That doesn’t mean the Hawks aren’t going to do everything they can to try and get back to the state title game and win it two years in a row.
“It’s just icing on the cake to get to the state chipper," said senior quarterback Jordan Jones. "Everyone thinks we’re the underdog and that’s good for us. Keeps us motivated and just keeps us going.”