BUTTE — With all the uncertainty that has permeated athletics since early 2020, the Montana Tech football team isn't taking anything for granted right now.
"It's really a blessing that we actually get to go out and play now," said quarterback Jet Campbell.
The Orediggers opened their 2021 fall camp on Thursday at Bob Green Field, just a little over three weeks before Tech is slated to open its season at home against Eastern Oregon in the annual Copper Game. Coincidentally, the Orediggers' last home victory was against the Mountaineers on Oct. 26, 2019.
A lot has changed for Tech since then, perhaps most apparently the hiring of Kyle Samson as head coach back in January 2020. The former Kalispell Flathead coach arrived at Tech just weeks before the pandemic grounded sports across the country.
The past 19 months have been about patience, perspective and perseverance.
"It's been a process and there's been days where you didn't know what was going on but I'm really proud of our kids for sticking through it, sticking to everything, going through all the adversity," Samson said. "And now getting to this point where we know what we're doing and we know where we're at. I'm really proud of our guys and our staff for working through all that."
Football games may have been shuttered last year, but Tech's program continued to march on with much of their work taking place behind the scenes.
"Our guys have put a lot of work into the last two years to get to this point," Samson said. "We're just really excited, really fortunate and feel privileged to be back on the football field getting ready for a game, getting ready for a season."
Getting back into the routine and rhythm of fall camp may be an adjustment for players who haven't experienced one in a long time, but it's one they greatly welcome.
"It's like you forget the fall camp feeling and then you get into it," said junior defensive end Logan Kolodejchuk. "Start getting back in the grind, the dog days of camp. Really feels good to back here with your brothers and with your family."
Both Campbell and Kolodejchuk used the same word to describe the feeling of actually preparing for a game after such a lengthy hiatus -- "ancy."
"It's a weird feeling but we're all super ready," Campbell said. "We've been waiting on this for so long."
"We're feeling great, we're just ready to get going," echoed Kolodejchuk.
Tech's home opener against EOU is scheduled for 6 p.m. on August 28.