LEWISTOWN — Ask the senior class at Lewistown what makes the 2018 season special and they get a little emotional.
“I love each and every one of these seniors like my own brother,” said receiver Tanner Trafton. “We hang out and we do everything together and I just want to make this year the best because I love them all.”
And the love dates back a lot further than high school.
“It goes way back to when we started playing tackle football in fifth grade” added running back Wes Jameson. “Obviously we were just having fun, but we were competing and we were beating a lot of teams from places like Great Falls, teams that had a lot more guys than us. We’ve always been just super competitive and we want to win.”
And this senior class, 12 strong, is loaded with talent.
For example, Trafton drew the attention of college scouts over summer and holds an offer from the University of Montana. Mitch Norslien is a three year starter as at quarterback and Jameson, last year’s Central A Offensive MVP added 30 pounds to his frame in the offseason.
But it’s in the trenches where the talent really shows and that’s just the start of what makes coach Vic Feller excited about this season.
“N only are they very athletic but we have a core group of offensive lineman,” he said. “We have our whole offensive line back from a year ago. They all started as juniors and hey got bigger, stronger in the offseason. Our skill kids got bigger, stronger in the offseason. Seniors have got better all the way through and it’s kind of reflected down into the junior class. We’re going to start some juniors. Ou7r numbers are slightly down, but our quality is very good.”
Lewistown opens the season with a good chance to exorcise some demons, hitting the road to face Laurel on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Eagles have lost six consecutive games to the Locomotives including four losses in the first round of the playoffs since 2010.
“My first few years we haven’t done too well against them and now my senior year, we want to put the period on that,” said Trafton. “We want to leave our legacy of not getting pushed around anymore.”
“A big statement game,” added Jameson. “We have to come out and show that we’re legit and we’re not going to lie down against anyone. Laurel has beat us up in the past few years, but we have to come out and set the tone for the season.”
That’s just one game with many more to play this season. The Eagles are pushing the tempo at practice, hoping to make the most of each and every game, every series and every snap.
“It’s nice to get (to the playoffs), but now let’s make some noise and it’s going to depend on how healthy we stay throughout the year,” said Feller. “I think we’re a very good football team, but there’s other great teams out there and when you talk about your goals, if your goal isn’t to win a state championship, then I don’t know why you’re out here. I think we have some kids that can challenge some people.”
After first round exits in each of the last two seasons, these seniors are no longer satisfied just to make the postseason.
“We want to be at the very top of the mountain by the end of the season,” Jameson said. “That’s a goal we’ve set and we’re chasing that. We’re not going to be satisfied with much less than being up at the top.”