Posted: Aug 14, 2012 10:24 PM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
Updated: Dec 4, 2012 11:17 AM
MISSOULA- The high school football season starts next Friday, giving the AA schools only two weeks to prepare for their first game. So over at Big Sky, the Eagles are leaning on last year's experience.
Matt Johnson's club brings back over half of its starters from 2011, including quarterback Cole Baker, leading receiver Nico Graham, and second leading rusher and playmaker Jay Owens. Last year, Big Sky won a Missoula city title, but lost out on a playoff trip in a tiebreaker. And that setback is giving a push to this year's group.
"We learned from last year that every single game counts," said Owens, a running back and free safety who admitted he enjoys the defensive side of the ball just a little bit more than offense. "You know, we lost an early game to Flathead that ended up being the game that didn't let us into the playoffs."
"I think that we learned a lot last year about what we could do," added another returning senior starter, center Colter Murphy. "And I think that, you know, it's really important for us to keep in mind this year that we do have a lot of returning seniors. And that we are on top this year as seniors. Play a little more fearlessly than we did last year."
"That's a huge advantage, to have kids that can step in," said Johnson, who returns for his third season at the helm. "And instead of starting way back with the base stuff, we can take, you know, another step forward."
"We would obviously like to win a state championship," said Owens. "And then a home playoff game is kind of what we're striving for right now."
The veterans will be tested early as Big Sky begins the season at the defending state champion Helena Capital Bruins on August 24th.