MISSOULA — Over the last four years, it's been a remarkable run for the Missoula Sentinel Spartans on the football field.
Most recently, standouts Adam Jones and JJ Dolan have been a big part of that success, and that duo is now getting set to reunite once again on the college football field when they take their talents to Montana State in Bozeman.
"I mean, it was one of the greatest, most rewarding four years of my life," Jones said.
Jones and Dolan both have grown up together as good friends, and even competed against one another growing up.
"Adam and I have always played together since third grade and we've been best friends since," Dolan said. "It was kind of iffy in the beginning ages, we didn't know if we liked each other, we were always enemies but once we got into high school it was special we knew we were going to be best friends.
"Going to the next level with him is going to be something different and I can't wait for it, and I don't think I'd be able to make it there without him."
But once they reached high school, the duo became two of many who played a big role in Sentinel winning back-to-back Class AA state football titles in 2020 and 2021, as well as a semifinal run as seniors this past fall.
"I think the biggest part was understanding how it's a process, and once you get away from the mindset of where you're so focused on an outcome of winning a state championship and you kind of live in the moment and learn how to love the team and create that team bond, the wins just start showing up," Jones said. "The more you build up that team chemistry, that team love, the better you play on Friday night so that was kind of what we discovered."
The two were captains this year for the Spartans, who despite year after year with their turnover, still made a run and lost a close game to Helena Capital in the semis.
But for their efforts, both Jones and Dolan were named all-state this season. Dolan finished with 53 total tackles, 10 for loss, and two sacks, and offensively he caught 13 passes for 160 yards and he also scored on four rushing touchdowns. Jones meanwhile carried the ball 153 times and ran for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns for Sentinel. He also caught 53 passes for 533 yards and seven more touchdowns. He added 35 total tackles on defense.
Now, the Bobcats are in the future for both. Jones committed before the season began, and Dolan made his decision after the season completed.
"My whole life I wanted to play D1 or at the next level, so it has been a lot of hard work and with my teammates we've all grinded," Dolan said. "But now that it's finally there it feels so good and just all the hard work has paid off, and I'm just thankful I did get the opportunity to play at the next level."
And continuing to be teammates is a special situation the two will continue to get to do after high school.
"It's going to be much fun, I can't wait to play with JJ," Jones said. "Growing up, in little guy football, me and JJ went at each other and then finally when we got to Sentinel, we got to combine our powers together and it was so much fun and getting to do that in college and having my best friend with me is going to be the best thing ever."