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Big Horns fans turn out for season openers

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LPHS students gather on the sidelines on Aug. 26 to cheer on the football team. PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

Soccer, football and volleyball games kick off fall sports at Lone Peak High School

By Gabrielle Gasser ASSOCIATE EDITOR

BIG SKY – It’s Friday night at the Big Horn Coliseum, the new turf field complex at the school. The sky radiates pink as the sun drops behind the mountains and the stadium lights and scoreboard paint a hazy glow around the field. The smell of burgers wafts on the breeze and a chorus of “Let’s go Big Horns!” echoes from the stands. Parents and fans donning Big Horn blue greet each other, and young kids too small to be playing varsity football play catch on the sideline, shooting admiring glances at the high school athletes. 

The Big Horns face off against the Ennis Mustangs in their inaugural football game. PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

It’s the first football game of the year for Lone Peak High School.

This past weekend, the football, volleyball and soccer teams took the court and the field to play a total of nine games between Aug. 26 and 27, kicking off the 2022 fall sports season. The return of the Big Horns served as a great reminder of the way these sports serve as a centering point for the Big Sky community.

“It takes a whole town to put a football game on like this,” said Jeremy Harder, assistant coach of the boys’ soccer team and longtime LPHS sports announcer over the loudspeakers at the football game. 

The inaugural game of the football season pitted the Big Horns against the Ennis Mustangs, and fans from both towns were eager to watch the teams battle it out after the Big Horns claimed a heart-pounding Homecoming win over the Mustangs last year in an overtime game. This year, the Mustangs claimed redemption over the Big Horns 46-19.

Big Horns Defensive Coordinator Adam Farr said the younger Big Horn team didn’t execute on certain plays, adding that they have some work to do on offensive blocking and defensive pass coverage.

“We’re certainly excited about the talent that we have,” Farr said. He and his coaching staff are looking forward to honing that talent throughout the season, he added.

Despite the ultimate defeat, Big Horns fans ran up and down the sidelines for more than two hours, keeping the energy high. 

One LPHS parent, Bobbi Gilbert, stuck around to watch the football game after seeing her children compete in the earlier soccer games. The Gilberts came to Big Sky after spending time living in Washington, D.C. and Bobbi said it’s been fun to reconnect with other families after a summer apart.

“The biggest thing that I really like about being here and the small-town sports compared to the larger stuff we’ve done, historically, is just the cohesiveness and everybody is really cheering for each other and supporting each other,” she said. 

LPHS senior Max Romney echoed Gilbert, saying he enjoys the culture of Class C sports here in Big Sky.

“Ennis has got their whole town here,” Romney said at the football game. “Everybody cares about the team and is supportive and loud, comes to games and really contributes to the teams.”

He added that sports are an opportunity not just for the community to gather, but the school as well, bringing all students from different groups together to cheer for blue and white.

Earlier on Friday, Aug. 26, the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams took the field to face off against the Stevensville Yellowjackets. The Lady Big Horns played first, notching a commanding 8-3 win over the Lady Yellowjackets. The boys played a close game falling 3-2 to Stevensville.

“It went really well,” said Kim Dickerson, head coach of the girls’ soccer team. “The girls had been working hard in preseason and a lot of what we’ve been working on they showcased in the game and that’s all a coach can ask for.”

The girls kept their momentum up on Saturday, Aug. 27, winning 8-0 against the Frenchtown Lady Broncs. The boys came out high energy and ready to play following the Lady Big Horns’ victory and beat the Broncs 4-3. 

Head Coach Tony Coppola said he thought the weekend went well for the boys. He said they did a good job taking what they learned from the loss on Friday and applying it against the Broncs on Saturday.

“I am very pleased with the boys’ dedication thus far and look forward to a great season of soccer,” Coppola said.

Senior Maddi Cone (31) gets a kill against the Sheridan Lady Panthers. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

Over in the Bough Dolan Athletic Center, the volleyball team made its way through the bracket of the Battle in Big Sky tournament on Aug. 27. The varsity Big Horns team played a total of four games, losing their second match to the Twin Bridges Lady Falcons and later claiming third place after a skillful defeat of the Shields Valley Lady Rebels.

“For their first time playing together, I could not be happier with the hustle they put in and the hard work that they showed,” said Head Coach Bailey Dowd.

Dowd added that the crowd and support from fellow student-athletes was a huge factor in their tournament success. 

“The school supporting each other is awesome,” she said. “It’s such a good community and it makes a difference when they’re here and cheering and the gym is loud. We love it.”

Following a weekend packed full of high school sports, the Big Horns have busy schedules the rest of the season. To stay up to date on LPHS sports, visit bssd72.org/athletics for the full schedule of games.

Julia Barton and Bella Butler contributed reporting to this story.

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