Mission High School football player Isaac DuMontier admitted his team is motivated after falling one victory short of qualifying for the Class C 8-man playoffs in 2017.
DuMontier, who began his season as a sophomore in 2016 when the Bulldogs were in Class B 11-man, was part of a freshman group that had to play against mostly juniors and seniors during the season in which they finished with an 0-8 record.
DuMontier, one of the leading candidates to become the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback this season, and his team have a simple goal: to become the first Bulldogs team to qualify for the playoffs since 2001.
“I think being so close to qualifying for the playoffs last year really motivated us,” DuMontier said.
DuMontier has noticed a change in the culture ignited by the near .500 season under the direction of Mission second-year coach Tyler Murray.
“You can see several kids in the weight room every day working out, and there are way more kids showing up to try to get better,”: DuMontier said. “The culture change really helps out tremendously. We work together as a team and we have a good chemistry. When our team plays together, I feel that we are unstoppable.”
DuMontier is currently being pushed by new transfer Colton (get last name), who is a transfer student from CMR.
The competition has only made him better, he said.
“It motivates you to put in extra work when no one else is doing anything,” DuMontier said. “It just really makes you a better person. The quarterback I was last year compared to the quarterback I am this year is like night and day with the difference.”
Bulldogs football player Flint McPherson expressed his optimism headed into the season.
Murray said he felt it is different expectations than last year.
“I think that you get everyone excited going from 11-man with one win to 8-man with a .500 loss ratio,” McPherson said. “I think our season is going to be a good one and we are looking forward to making the playoffs for the first time since 2001. I think the last game really got us pumped up for the season because we were so ready for the upcoming season.”
One major difference between this season and last season is the level of participation.
“We had lots of camps and went to Bozeman and Montana Tech camp this summer,” McPherson said. “We have a lot more players committed to participating this summer. We are all very excited and we are ready for the season.”
Kolton Gardipee is a transfer student from CMR vying for a starting spot on the roster.
“This season is pretty exciting and this is a new team for me, “ Gardipee said. “There is a lot of good talent and I have a chance to make a playoff run.”
Even though he is new to the team, he said he has one goal in mind .
“Playoffs is our No. 1 goal and we want to come out here and win some games,” Gardipee said.
Playoffs is exactly what Murray, who is now in his second season after graduating from Western Montana, is eyeing as he attempts to turn around a program that has a 17-year playoff drought.
“I would say the people in this community have a different kind of buzz about it,” Murray said. “They enjoy coming to the games and the parents are pretty outstanding and support us a lot. We get good feedback which is pretty awesome. They prepare meals and our fans travel well.”