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West Yellowstone finding success in 1st year of 8-Man football

Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 26, 2019

West Yellowstone has made four consecutive playoff appearances, but those came at the 6-Man level. The Wolverines are in their first year back of 8-Man football, but that hasn't stopped them from being successful.

"I think we've heard a lot of noise saying we're a 6-Man team playing 8-Man football, and I think those guys take a chip on their shoulder every week," West Yellowstone head coach Jeff Matthews said. "They're great kids, they're fun to coach, but more importantly they give everything they've got. I know that no matter what, when we go into a game, we're going to have a good opportunity to win it just because of the kids that we have."

"I think this shows that we can play football. We can play wherever the state wants us to play. 8-Man isn't too big of a change for us, we can adjust easily," West Yellowstone senior running back Miguel Salinas said.

The Wolverines are the lone unbeaten team remaining in the 8-Man South and they sit atop the conference standings. West Yellowstone's senior-laden roster is a big reason for its success this season, as it's a group that's played together for years.

"We've been playing together ever since kindergarten on the playground. A lot of seasons it hasn't gone well. There was one season we lost every game," West Yellowstone senior quarterback Mac Hauck said. "I feel like that's helped us kind of grow together and figure out how each other plays. It's all about reps and minutes, and we've got a lot of it as seniors together, and we're playing really well."

The seniors have grown in their time together with Matthews, too. Matthews is a former record-breaking quarterback at Cornell University, so his players have been sponges, soaking up all the information they can get.

"We just soak in everything he says, because as a quarterback he knows exactly what the defense is going to try to do to what," Salinas said. "When he speaks to us about our defensive coverages, we really try to nail that down as much as possible."

Matthews and his West Yellowstone team have developed tremendous chemistry in recent years, and they'll be relying on that down the stretch this season.

"We're focused on us, that's what we preach all the time," Matthews said. "We've got eight guys now, and we believe our eight guys can go up against anybody. It's going to be a lot of fun as this thing goes on to compete against some other teams and see how good we are."