DILLON — Zach McRae may be the most talked about person in Dillon, and for good reason. The Beaverhead County native is back in town with a new title: head coach of the Dillon Beavers football team.
“I grew up here, played at (Montana) Western, graduated from there, coached there,” McRae said of his history in southern Montana. “I was fortunate enough to get a teaching job and now I’m back.”
In January of 2018, longtime coach Rick Nordahl announced his retirement. Two months later, McRae was hired to follow the legacy as great as Nordahl’s, who had been with the team just short of three decades.
“After Nord said he was going to retire, I asked him who wanted it. They were like, ‘Well, we’re looking for a new guy with energy’, and I told him I wanted it,” McRae said.
“I’m humbled and honored, I’m excited, I don’t take it for granted. I’m proud to wear Beavers across the chest.”
For senior Tyler Walker, the change in coaching is something he has never dealt with before. However, he is confident in what McRae can do.
“Nordahl was really experienced,” Walker said. “McRae knows what he’s doing, but what he doesn’t have in knowledge he makes up for in hustle. I know he will hustle us the right way.”
The Beavers went 8-2 last season, their final loss coming in the second round of the Class A playoffs to Sidney. The shortcoming has only added fuel to the fire for McCrae and his squad.
“I just don’t think we were all in our game, we weren’t focused,” Walker said. “This year we’re coming for it again and get the (win).”
McCrae is young, just shy of 30, and he makes sure his coaching style reflects that.
“I think it all starts in practice and practice up tempo,” McRae said. “Everyone is in a rep, no one is standing around. That will translate to what we’re doing on offense.”
The Beavers have been practicing nine days straight, and McRae knows his players are feeling the toll.
“They’re feeling it a little in their bodies and how fast we can go, but I think its gone over really well,” he said.
And he hopes that translates to how he wants the season to go.
“Fast, play fast,” McRae said.