COLUMBIA FALLS - Columbia Falls high school soccer has seemingly taken charge of class A soccer in Montana after putting an end to the impressive winning streak held by the Whitefish Bulldogs and the incredible feat certainly didn’t happen overnight.
"This squad is in the position that they’re in from the last four years of hard work," said Columbia Falls Head Soccer Coach O’Brien Byrd. "You know so it’s been a build, it’s been a slow slow burn and now things are heating up."
And after falling to Whitefish in the state championship the last two years, it couldn’t mean more to the program to finally beat them in both games this season.
"It’s important for the boys, if you can imagine just being in second place the last couple years and always losing to Whitefish your whole high school career, that was just such a relief that the boys earned," said Byrd proudly.
A relief that senior Josiah Kilman definitely felt after losing to the Bulldogs his first three years.
"That first game was super exciting you know, just kinda got that win, got it done and then the last game we just kinda dominated and showed that we’re the better team now, you know this is how it’s gonna be," said Kilman.
But after the dust settled the team's eyes shifted focus toward their first state matchup in the semifinals.
"Get the job done there and then we’re in the chipper and you know the way we’ve been there the last two years so it’s routine but we gotta go and get it done this year," said Kilman.
And when it comes to this year's success the school philosophy couldn’t ring more true.
"Our goal is to just take one week at a time. You know how you eat an elephant is one bite at a time? So, that’s how we’re looking at it," said Columbia Falls Athletic Director Troy Bowman. "But our end goal is to be there again and actually host the state championship here."
After attempting to cover the Wildcats' first win over the Bulldogs the team wanted to wait until after their second matchup to avoid any potential jinx.
"Always in my office whenever somebody asks a question, you know, ‘this, that, or whatever,’ I’m always knocking on wood or knocking on my own head just to make sure that, you know we don’t jinx things," said Bowman.
Bowman isn’t the only one with his own superstitions as team captain Walton Nichols has his own secret for success.
"We got new shin guards that were specific to the program this year and they got me and my brothers names on it so I just tap em and kiss em and I guess it just like a little tribute to my brother," said Nichols with a smile. "I’ve been doing it since game one and it’s been working so why not stop now."