ARLEE — With a 7-0 record, the Arlee Warriors are one of the best 8-Man football teams in Montana this year. And they have no intent on slowing down in the pursuit of their first state title since 1981.
"Honestly, this is the best scenario: going undefeated your senior year so far in the season," said senior running back Jace Arca. "(We're) about rolling in on playoff time and hopefully roll through playoffs and get a championship."
Outscoring opponents 340-82 so far, the Warriors seem to have found the recipe for success and plan to stick with it for the rest of the season.
"Just doing what we do every week is all we need to do pretty much just going into playoff time," said Arca. "And it feels great."
For fellow senior and running back Jake Knoll, the successful season has been a long time coming, especially considering the seniors have been varsity teammates since their freshman year.
"Just happy to see all that hard work pay off finally and have our turn," said Knoll, who leads the team averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game. "We've got to stay to our fundamentals, and we'll make that deep run and hopefully keep the undefeated (record) all the way."
"Our freshman year we just got thrown into varsity. We didn't have a choice, there was no JV, so (this season is) awesome," said quarterback Kendall O’Neill, who’s been playing football alongside Arca and Knoll since kindergarten recess.
Coach Quinn Huisman has been with this group of seniors since their freshman year.
"The core has been playing varsity since their freshman year because we had very low numbers," said the fourth-year coach. "So, it's just been a credit to them to trust in the process and just sticking to it.
"These kids are staying together in the weight room, they're working out, they're staying on top of their studies, not having problems with ineligibility.
Huisman also believes what makes this group so special is the family culture the town of Arlee fosters.
"I think small-town community feel really transcends all other issues going on in the world and stuff, and regardless of what's going on we stay tight as a community and the kids are tight," said Huisman. "They've known each other's entire families since they were little, and that really brings a whole new meaning to family."
While the regular season still has few weeks remaining, the Warriors are focused on just one thing for the time being.
"Right now it’s winning, I guess," said O’Neill. "Winning with my boys."