BILLINGS -- After closing as back-to-back Class AA state football champions, Billings Senior's football players lost their last game of the 2018 season.
And a lot of them have been stewing about it since.
"Definitely, there is that bad taste in your mouth from not winning your last game," said head coach Chris Murdock. "It's definitely different. I don't know how to exactly say that. But there's a lot of things we went back and evaluated and that we were able to look at and try to improve on."
"We've got a lot more hunger in us this year," said safety T.J. Smith. "I mean, last year we came off two state championships. I mean, we didn't think we were going to have to fight like we did, but this year's going to be a lot different."
Lineman Kyle Smith was more direct.
"I swear, it just gives us all the more drive to get another one," he said.
The game Senior's guys are talking about: a 52-35 shootout loss in the opening round of the playoffs to Kalispell Flathead. The Braves went on to reach the title game where they lost to Billings West by six, meaning another motivator is that the AA state title now resides just across town at West.
And if that's not enough, Murdock says no position is guaranteed. In particular, there are fierce battles at defensive back, receiver and running back.
"You've got some guys coming back, but you've got guys trying to win their jobs, too," Murdock said. "Nothing is being handed out right now. We're looking for guys to come out and compete and win a job."
These guys say the goal is championship or bust. A lot of teams tend to claim that before season-opening kickoff, but those thoughts aren't always realistic. The Broncs own two of the past three state titles, so they believe it is.
The Broncs open the season at home against Helena Capital on Aug. 30.