BOZEMAN — Before playing football at Montana State, three of the program’s starters grew up right down the road from Bobcat Stadium first making a name for themselves at Bozeman High School: wide receiver Lance McCutcheon, linebacker Callahan O'Reilly, and center Justus Perkins.
Now, they’re lighting up the gridiron together at the college level, with one of them just days away from making his debut at home.
"I definitely feel a little special inside when I’ve got my Bozeman Hawks out there with me whether that’s offense or defense too," McCutcheon smiled.
The senior wide receiver, who helped lead the Hawks to a State AA Championship in 2015, is holding a more expanded role this fall for the Bobcats playing not only outside, but slot as well. His increased presence on the field was apparent during Week One’s season opener against Wyoming, notching a game-high five receptions for 71 yards while also hauling in this 15-yard touchdown.
"I think coming into the season, we felt like Lance not only could be but needed to be one of our key playmakers on offense and that showed up," Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen explained. He made two hard, difficult catches. I think that’s a sign of what Lance can do, and we expect him to do that each week.”
On the defensive side of the ball, O’Reilly started his 11th game for the Bobcats, but first at "Will” linebacker. With a healthy Troy Andersen, the duo is a lethal 1-2 punch, racking up a combined 17 tackles during Week One.
"Callahan is still just a great leader and a phenomenal athlete, and I think you still see that from him in a linebacker," Bozeman Hawks head coach Levi Wesche said. "His height. His length. His size. He runs so well sideline to sideline. He played quarterback for us so that again just proves how versatile he is and the kind of player he is.”
However, Week One against Wyoming was extra special for one former Hawk - redshirt freshman Justus Perkins who got his first-ever collegiate start at center.
"It was crazy," Perkins smiled. "It was a dream of mine growing up and to be able to accomplish it and start for the Bobcats was a dream come true.”
The former walk-on capitalized on the opportunity this offseason when Cole Swain went down with an injury, and while he may look undersized at center, Vigen said he more than held his own this past week.
“He got on guys pretty consistently, and for a first game, we’re pleased with how he did," Vigen explained. "Snapped the ball well and communicated well. All those things we need from a center. He looked like he belonged out there.”
"He just always bet on himself, and that’s one thing I told him when I found out he was starting is man, you push all the chips on the table yourself and you won," Wesche added. "That’s what makes him himself is he’s always going to bet on himself and believe in himself.”
You can catch those former Bozeman Hawks this Saturday at Gold Rush as they take the field against Drake.