BILLINGS – The Broncs are back – and not a moment too soon.
“It just kind of gives you goosebumps,” said Billings Senior head coach Chris Murdock about the opening of fall camp Friday. “It’s a privilege. It’s an honor to be out here doing this again.”
Murdock has led his team to 26 consecutive wins, but the names fans have become so familiar with are gone. No more Sulser, Askelson, LaBeau – so is Senior is vulnerable? This year’s group has heard that all summer.
“It just motivates us to get better every day,” said senior Max Evenson. “We want to prove that we don’t really need them, and we can win without them.”
“What we were able to accomplish hasn’t been done very many times in (Class) AA football history,” said Murdock, “but that’s also in the past, and if you’re still thinking about what happened in the past, then you’re probably not ready for what you need to get done in the future.”
Evenson and Gunner Hegg will lead the new Broncs this season. They played wide receiver and running back, respectively, until the first day of practice last year – when coaches told them to go to the lineman drills.
“First thing I was thinking is, these guys are a lot bigger than me,” admitted Hegg. “But after we got going, everything just started flowing.”
“I knew I had to block, but I didn’t know how to do it,” Evenson laughed. “They were a lot bigger than me, so it was kind of pretty nerve-racking, but it just came to me, I guess.”
You could say that. Both ended up all-state on offense and defense. Their rewards? A move back to the skill positions. Hegg will line up at running back.
“I’m liking it so far. A little better understanding where the blocks are going to be from playing O-line, so that definitely helps,” Hegg said.
Evenson, meanwhile, will stay on the line, but move outside to tight end.
“I wouldn’t have minded playing (line) this year, but I guess they don’t need me there anymore,” he joked.
After 26 straight wins, the coaching staff has earned the players’ trust – and the rest of the state’s respect.
Billings West head coach Rob Stanton put it simply: “Billings Senior has won 26 games in a row, and until somebody knocks them off, they’re the team to beat.”
Senior opens its season Aug. 24 at home against Kalispell Glacier.