GREAT FALLS – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
These things take time, just like it has with the Great Falls High football team. This year makes it 30 years since the Bison last claimed a AA state title and 10 years since the team won more than two games in a season and made the playoffs. The team is coming off a dismal 2-8 season last year. But for head coach Mark Samson’s squad, the overall attitude of making Great Falls High winners again is in the right place.
“What impressed me most about these kids is, I think our mental attitude is where it’s supposed to be. We have a lot of kids that are excited, a lot of kids that want to get this into a winning program this year,” Samson said. “We’re a little thin at some positions as far as depth goes, but we’ll get it. We’ll get kids to where they have to be. But their attitude is tremendous right now, it’s been a good summer for us and I know they’re looking forward to it.”
“I think we just really have to nail our plays and get everything down mentally. I think we really have to come together as a team because we lost some guys last year,” said junior running back Gabe Longin. “We need to get better bonding and get really good chemistry, too.”
No longer is there a carousel at the quarterback position for the Bison. Kevin Boes has graduated, meaning Blake Thelen now has the full-time keys to the car. He’s more than ready to take this team under his wing.
“I’ve always been a quarterback, all my life pretty much, and I’ve always kid of embraced the leadership role,” said Thelen, a senior. “This year I’m pretty excited, hopefully we can get out there and go win a state championship.”
Great Falls High may be low in some areas but the team does have quite a few starters coming back this year. The talent is there, the great coaching is there, but will that be a match made for each other? Is this the season that the team finally turns it around? That will be put to the test August 24, when the Bison welcome in Helena Capital.
“The last few years we’ve had a lot of one-point, two-point losses and this year we’ve got a lot of veterans coming back and we know how to win,” said Thelen. “We’re betting on our captains and our older guys to bring everybody with us and hopefully take some W’s this year.”
“This has to be a mental thing, of just how we’re going to go out and win,” said Longin. “We have everything we need to win, we know we have everything. It’s just whether we want to, if we want to try hard and get it at the end of the game.”