DILLON — Riley Martello is undoubtedly the vocal leader of the Montana Western football team.
“What you get with Riley is a ton of energy and enthusiasm, but you get true passion for the game,” said head coach Ryan Nourse. “No one likes to play this game as much as Riley.”
But around this time last season, the Bozeman native wasn’t sure he would ever see the field again.
“There was a lot going on,” Martello said, reminiscing back to last spring. “I didn’t think I was going to play again. I had family, friends, and coaches supporting me to come back, so I came back (and) came back, and it just feels awesome.”
Martello tore his ACL entering his senior season in Dillon. But with a little faith, he returns for a fifth year. He hopes to bring a little fire back to the Bulldogs’ defense.
“He has, for the last three years, just been a huge leader,” said teammate and fellow linebacker Jason Ferris. “(He’s) just always bringing the intensity, always just putting energy into the team.”
Energy has always been a part of Martello’s persona, both on and off the field.
“I’ve been a vocal guy my whole life, that’s just something that’s been a part of me,” Martello said. “It’s hard not to do it. But this year, coming back, I feel like I really have to get the guys going.”
He participated in his first in-game action during Western’s scrimmage on Saturday, making the first of his handful of tackles on the first snap of the day.
“I haven’t tackled a guy in about two years, so just tackling someone felt awesome,” he said excitedly.
He admits that any roadblocks are more mental than physical a year after sustaining the injury, but a guy like Martello won’t be taking himself off of the field anytime soon.