BOZEMAN – It’s officially football season as fall sports were allowed to hold their first practices Friday morning, and the Bozeman Hawks took to the fields outside of Van Winkle Stadium ready to play.
“Everyone is ready. From younger to older, we are all getting in there, playing with heart and getting ready for the season,” said Ryan Simpson, a senior wide receiver and corner.
The Hawks are missing a few key players from last season, like wide receiver Logan Kleinhans, safety Tyler Dobie and defensive end Jory Choate. Kleinhans and Choate are freshmen on the Montana State football team. But even with some stars moving on, Bozeman head coach Levi Wesche believes his team isn’t all unfamiliar.
“We lost some very good players, obviously, but on offense we are returning nine guys that started games last year, so that’s pretty exciting,” Wesche said.
And even on Day 1, the chemistry in the offensive huddle is electric.
“It’s amazing. Our (offensive line) is stacked. I freaking love them all, all the big guys. You got to give them love, because they don’t get it most of the time,” said quarterback Kris Brown. “But we have some studs, and I think we are going to beast it up on offense. I can’t wait.”
The offense is shaping up to be the strong link in the chain for the Hawks, and it will begin in the backfield with future Bobcat Joe Olsen.
“He’s got everything you want in a running back. He breaks a lot of tackles and just competes on every down,” Wesche said of Olson. “He’s playing Division I football next year, so I think a lot of our offense is going to run through him and build what we can do off of what we can accomplish on the ground.”
As for the defense, the Hawks are a bit inexperienced on that side of the ball. They return only four starters, but now it’s all about who can rise to the occasion and win the open jobs.
“They fuel us because it’s another open spot to compete for. We are always going to put the best men on the field every week, so it definitely increases the competition in practice,” said Justus Perkins.
Even without many veterans, Wesche said his defensive line can become even better than last year’s unit. He also praised the young talent that will be coming off the edge. The Hawks are ready to get camp under way and right the final wrong of last season, where, as a No. 8 seed, they lost to eventual state champion Billings Senior 35-25 in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
“I don’t want to lose this year at all really. I want our team to go undefeated,” said senior running back Joe Olson. “And that’s our goal and I know it’s everyone’s goal, so that’s what we are going to work for.”