TOWNSEND -- It’s not the start of the season that anyone expected, but, when many will take the field for the first time on Friday, it'll serve as a much-needed morale boost to many high school football players across Montana.
The Townsend Bulldogs will play host to the Bigfork Vikings at 7 p.m. Friday, as two of the handful of schools still playing non-conference matchups. Bulldogs head coach Travis Rauh said they’re keeping as many games on the schedule as they can because it wouldn't be fair to his players to throw them by the wayside.
“With our conferences being as small as they are now, it would be knocking down our kids down to five regular-season games," Rauh said regarding non-conference matchups. "They want to -- they signed up to play football, to play in football games.”
Friday’s matchup is also the return to the field for Klause Rauser, a junior offensive lineman that sat out much of his sophomore season with an injury. As he looked forward to his penultimate season, Rauser noted he was initially worried if it would even come to fruition.
"When (the pandemic) first started, I was a little disappointed of course, because track got canceled," said Rauser. "Then the closer and closer we got to football season, it was still super uncertain. So, we didn't know, but I'm glad we're back."
Both Rauh and Rauser said there is a bit of worry in the back of their minds that a coronavirus resurgence could force the season to fold like the spring sports of this year, but both noted they can only control what is immediately inside their grasp, and they now look forward to a stiff test to open the season
“We play some real quality teams in our non-conference and Bigfork is an outstanding opponent and we're looking forward to the challenge,” said Rauh.
“Bigfork is a really good team, it will help us out a lot,” said Rauser.