SHELBY – There isn’t much that rattles Wyatt Brusven.
The Shelby senior is a state wrestling semifinalist and third-place finisher and appears to have ice in his veins on the football field. Last fall, Brusven kicked a pair of game-winning field goals in the Class B football playoffs for the Coyotes – a 39-yarder in the opening round against Bigfork and a 32-yard walk-off the following week at Whitehall.
His point-after-touchdown in the final two minutes lifted Shelby past Missoula Loyola 28-27 in the semifinals, leading the program to its first state championship appearance in almost three decades.
“It was really exciting, actually, and something we practiced every day, last year and this year,” said Brusven. “Field goals and special teams, it came through, all our hard work came out from the summers, morning workouts and stuff like that. It was a good experience and it was fun.”
“I suppose in retrospect it is (asking a lot), but knowing Wyatt, knowing his family, knowing how he grew up, as I said last year, that was kind of the expectation,” said Shelby head coach Mike White. “We practiced it enough and do enough of those things that it became, ‘Hey, we’re going to go out, we’re going to snap it, set it, kick it, win the game and move on.’ That was the mindset.”
Shelby’s magical run ended in the Class B state championship, a 47-7 loss against mighty Eureka, but the memories from those playoffs, including three monstrous kicks in as many weeks, are something Brusven will not soon forget.
“Just being with great people. They were a great bunch of kids, all good kids, fun to be around, definitely,” he said. “It’s going to be a good experience to look back at some of the things we did while we were going. It’s going to be good stories for the rest of our lives, so that will be good.”
Brusven and his teammates are creating more memories this fall, Shelby’s first in the 8-Man football ranks, controversial in the eyes of many but well within regulated enrollment standards. The Coyotes posted a 7-0 record in the regular season, winning the 8-Man North championship, then blasted Darby 56-14 in the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday.
At the center of it all remains Brusven, who still showcases his kicking abilities, though he has taken on a different role in the offense.
“One thing, I kind of moved to running back this year more than wide receiver, so I want to run hard every play and get as many yards after contact as I can, catch every ball when I’m playing receiver and no missed assignments on defense. That’s kind of what I go for,” he said.
“I just think he’s a tough one to tackle,” said White. “He has a little hitch in his giddy-up, he’s got some nice moves and he just knows, he’s a smart football player, he knows what to do with the ball. He just gets it done, he’s a competitor. The one thing you can’t measure is his heart. I would take all kinds of Wyatts if I could.”
Brusven isn’t the only member of the family finding success in athletics, his younger brother Cameron is a freshman for the Coyotes, and their first cousin has made headlines and highlight-reel plays all season – Roundup standout Brody Grebe.
“My mom and his mom are sisters, so we get to hang out quite a bit during summers and stuff like that,” said Wyatt Brusven. “It’s cool to go from not talking to him (for a couple weeks) to showing up at a camp together, like, ‘Oh, hey.’ Obviously competing against each other is super fun. Everything is a competition between us, we kind of like it that way. It’s cool to follow him. He’s doing really good and having a great season. He follows me, too, and we talk all the time.”
Brusven says he and Grebe, who has Roundup also unbeaten and in the quarterfinals in the Class B bracket, could put together a friendly wager on whose team stays alive the longest in these playoffs. Shelby welcomes Circle on Saturday, while Roundup faces Bigfork.
One area Brusven would certainly top his cousin? The hair department, where the Shelby senior has been working on his mullet for months.
“It was me and my brother and other cousin on my dad’s side (who came up with the idea),” he said. “We actually went to the NFC Championship game last year and we were like, ‘OK, by Fourth of July, see who could have the best mullet by then.’ It kind of went from there.”
“I don’t know, the mullets hit Shelby,” said White. “A lot of the kids have them, and it’s kind of their thing this year. Last year it was, ‘Get it as long as you could,’ now it’s the mullets. That’s part of the, like we were talking about earlier, that’s part of the fun you have with the kids.”
Any chance it brings back memories of a younger White rocking a similar style?
“No, I don’t think so. Nothing we’re going to put on the record,” he laughed.
Brusven likely would have worn it better anyway.