HELENA — Helena High School didn’t have to look far for its next head football coach.
Longtime assistant Scott Evans was announced as the new coach of the Bengals on Wednesday, replacing Tony Arntson, who accepted a full-time position with Carroll College in early February. Evans’ hire is still pending board approval.
“Pending board approval, Scott Evans has been chosen to be the next head football coach at HHS. Scott has been a longtime assistant and the defensive coordinator at Helena High,” Wednesday’s release from activities director Jim Opitz read.
“This has been on my (radar) for awhile,” Evans said. “I’ve been blessed to work with Tony for a lot of years and he’s done a tremendous job of helping me out and getting me prepared. But this is a job I’ve wanted for sure.”
Evans served as an assistant coach under Arntson for the past 24 years, guiding the Bengals to four state championship appearances and a 160-91 record. Helena High finished runner-up this past fall, losing a 21-12 contest to Billings Senior in the State AA championship game.
“Scott Evans has been here from the start and he’s dedicated his whole life to this program as an assistant coach,” Arntson told MTN Sports last month, admitting that Evans would be his choice of replacement.
“He will do a great job,” Arntson reiterated to MTN Sports on Wednesday.
“Don’t ever assume you know too damn much,” Evans laughed, discussing what he’s learned during his career. “I’ve learned to be patient and make sure that I’m more proactive instead of reactive. When I first started, I was a pretty reactive coach, but now I’ve learned to take patience with it, give good answers, make sure I come up with better answers down the road instead of jumping right at it.”
Under Evans’ tutelage, Helena High has had numerous all-conference and all-state defensive players, including names like Sean Blomqiust, Mike Ferriter, Sean Donahue, and, this past season, Connor Nash.
Evans, a former Great Falls High all-state linebacker, is a 1993 graduate of Western Montana College (now Montana Western) and was inducted into the Bulldogs’ athletics hall of fame in 2003. He was a three-time all-conference and all-District 12 linebacker, while being recognized as an NAIA honorable mention all-American his senior season. Six times during his Bulldog career, Evans was named the Frontier Conference player of the week. He also earned national player of the week honors once in his career.
Playing for Western coaches Mick Dennehy and Mick Delaney, Evans held the Bulldogs’ career tackling record until it was broken in 2002 by Craig LeCoure.
Upon graduation, Evans took his first coaching job as an assistant for the Dillon Beavers under hall of fame coach Terry Thomas. He joined Helena High’s program in 1993 as an offensive coach, before taking over the defensive coordinator position in 2001.
“I tell you what, I’ve been very blessed. I’m blessed that my family supports me wholeheartedly,” Evans said. “They know my passion and love for the game. I can’t really tell what I would do besides (coach). My wife says I would probably drive her crazy if I tried to do anything else. I have a lot of years left in me, as they say, a lot of tread on the tires, and I want to run with this thing for quite awhile. I have two young boys coming into the program as well, and my passion for the sport grew about 10 times more with this new job. I guess it’s one of those things where my spirits kicked up even more.”
Evans says the Helena High coaching staff will remain intact, though new roles will be seen next fall. Manny Garza will serve as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, while defensive assistants like Ryan Schulte will also take on bigger roles.
“We’ll move (Garza) up and give him an opportunity to call the plays,” Evans said. “He does a great job with our kids and he’s one of those guys that, he learns on the job every day. I’m very happy to have him. Our offensive staff has always been solid. We have Coach (Bob) Sampson on the offensive line, he does a great job. Our running backs coach, Coach (Rob) Tesch, and we’ll be moving a couple other coaches on the offensive side of the ball.
“Defensively, I’ll work with the staff we’ve got. I have a really good staff there. We’ll give more control to Ryan Schulte and the boys over there. I’ll still be calling the plays, but they’ll be helping me out quite a bit on that side as they always have.”