COLUMBIA FALLS — Columbia Falls soccer has seemingly taken charge of Class A soccer in Montana after putting an end to the impressive winning streak held by the Whitefish Bulldogs and the incredible feat certainly didn’t happen overnight.
"This squad is in the position that they’re in from the last four years of hard work," said Columbia Falls coach O’Brien Byrd. "So it’s been a build, it’s been a slow, slow burn and now things are heating up."
After falling to Whitefish in the state championship the last two years it couldn’t mean more to the program to finally beat them in both games this season.
"It’s important for the boys, if you can imagine just being in second place the last couple years and always losing to Whitefish your whole high school career, that was just such a relief that the boys earned," said Byrd proudly.
A relief that senior Josiah Kilman definitely felt after losing to the Bulldogs his first three years.
"That first game was super exciting you know, just kind of got that win, got it done and then the last game we just kind of dominated and showed that we’re the better team now, you know this is how it’s going to be," said Kilman.
But after the dust settled the team eyes shifted focus towards their first state matchup in the semifinals.
"Get the job done there and then we’re in the chipper and you know way we’ve been there the last two years so it’s routine but we've got to go and get it done this year," said Kilman.
And when it comes to this years success the school philosophy couldn’t ring more true.
"Our goal is to just take one week at a time, you know how you eat an elephant is one bite at a time so that’s how we’re looking at it," said Columbia Falls athletic director Troy Bowman. "But our end goal is to be there again and actually host the state championship here."
After attempting to cover the Wildcats' first win over the Bulldogs the team wanted to wait until after their second matchup to avoid any potential jinx.
"Always in my office whenever somebody asks a question, you know, ‘this, that, or whatever,’ I’m always knocking on wood or knocking on my own head just to make sure that, you know, we don’t jinx things," said Bowman.
And Bowman isn’t the only one with his own superstitions as team captain Walton Nichols has his own secret for success.
"We got new shin guards that were specific to the program this year and they've got me and my brothers names on it, so I just tap them and kiss them and I guess it's just like a little tribute to my brother," said Nichols with a smile. "I’ve been doing it since Game 1 and it’s been working, so why not stop now?"