By Grayson Bell, Big Sky Weekly Cub Reporter
Families are not always blood related. Families don’t always live under the same roof. Families don’t always have the same last name. Families are sometimes made from friendship, love and hard work.
The Lone Peak Big Horns football team is a family.
“Our team has this bond, and it’s not only the juniors who are friends with juniors, but it’s the freshman and juniors, and age is not a factor on this team; we are one unit,” said Tucker Shea, a junior running back and kicker.
The friendship between the teammates is apparent in practice, in games and in school.
“I feel like we’re a family, we all get along so well. It’s almost like we’re brothers,” said freshman Trevor House with a big smile on his face.
Since August, the Big Horns have been bonding physically and emotionally. They hit each other, pick each other back up, feed off of each other’s energy, they fight through the pains of losing together, and celebrate the joys of winning with one another. There is no ‘I’ in team with these guys.
“Our team demands that we play at a certain level, and if one of us doesn’t reach that level, we never get there. Football is a team game, and we have 23 people to help the cause,” said junior Tommy Tosic said.
Out of the 23 boys, 11 are freshman. They have the unique opportunity to be the present and future Big Horns, and have another three years to create a football culture.
The Lone Peak Big Horns have already set a football culture, and begun to set standards for themselves and for one another. They have a dominant defense and run game and are slowly setting a strong passing game behind the arm of freshman quarterback Justin McKillop. The team knows that they have the support from the community, the school, the parents, the coaches, but most of all they have support from each other.
The freshmen, along with the rest of the team, know what they are doing, and what they have done is special.
“There is no other team that can say they were first. No other team can say they had the first win in Lone Peak history. We’re making history,” said Shea, who scored the first ever Big Horn touchdown.
The Big Horns have been working vigorously to make history every game.
“We can’t lower our standards of play because we’re a first-year team, we want the same thing every other team wants, to make the playoffs, win in the playoffs and bring home a trophy,” junior Jack Cruse said.
The team is very close to doing exactly that, and heading into a late-October game against conference rival Lima, the Bighorns are likely to reach the playoffs in the first season.
“Our entire team wants the same thing, we want to win. We’re great friends on the field and we love goofing around, but our team is very serious about winning,” Cruse said.
“Having older more experienced players like Jake, Matt, and Tommy really helps our team. They understand the game better and they toughen us up. They are helping us younger players get ready for the next three years,” House said.
But not all starters are juniors and seniors; both House and McKillop are freshmen that thrive in starting positions. House is a starting linebacker and recent “Big Hitter” winner. He plays with a fast, intense, smart style. He comes up with big hits, causes fumbles, and is one of the few who recovers fumbles for the Big Horns.
As the starting quarterback has an accurate arm that can fire a ball down field, McKillop sees the field very well and makes smart decisions in the pocket.
In just about every game and practice, defensive lineman Tanner Burton will chase the opposing quarterback; he is a force to be reckoned with. In the Hot Springs game, freshman Quinn House came up big, catching two important passes from both sides of the field, one on defense for an interception, the other coming on an offensive touchdown.
The team has learned the game at a fast pace, and will keep enhancing their skills week in and week out. Every week the team seems to understand the game more and more, and the team begins to look like a well-oiled machine.
The Lone Peak Big Horns strive for excellence, and work hard and long at reaching their goals. Fall 2011 is only the beginning of Big Horn football.
As Gov. Brian Schweitzer says, “Those West Coast teams got nothin’ over Big Sky, this is real run and gun.”