LIVINGSTON — As the sun begins to peak out over the Black Mountains, the Park High Rangers have already been practicing for an hour. In fact, their practice runs from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. every day.
They’re working out before many other teams in the area are awake.
Despite the early mornings, if you closed your eyes and listened, the energy from the young men would make it feel like a regular 4 p.m. practice.
“We have a really solid, good group of guys that bond,” senior quarterback John Waddell said. “It brings out the best in us and we all trust each other, and that brings energy day in and day out.”
But what exactly encourages the energy so early in the morning? Or even to wake up and continue to commit to practice every day?
It starts with the Rangers’ desire for redemption. In the three years the seniors on the team have been at the school, they have tallied only three wins.
“It’s not a great feeling, but I guess it fuels you,” Waddell said. “Every offseason you want to work harder. (We’re) trying to get more than one win this year.”
Head coach Jon Willyerd, in his second year in charge, believes the foundation they built last year will create strides for this year’s season.
“Last year even though we were 1-8, we had a lot of successes, the kind of successes that no one sees on a scoreboard. It’s the locker room type, the discipline type, accountability,” Willyerd said. “Our team theme is, ‘Raise the bar,’ literally and figuratively, and these kids are raising the bar, so I’m happy.”
While some teams are seeking the ultimate goal of a state championship, Willyerd’s guys are taking it one step at a time.
“Make the playoffs, win the conference, have more success in the past,” Waddell said.
And Willyerd has a goal for himself, too.
“Not lose the rest of my hair,” he chuckled.
Livingston opens up its season at home on Aug. 24 against Glendive.