Plains High School has seen very positive signs of the Horsemen’s football program being turned around, when you look back at last season.
Eddie Fultz returns for his second season year as head coach. He has two new assistants. George Sherwood, a new teacher just out of college, played football at Montana Western. The other coach is volunteer James Jermyn.
The Horsemen remain in the Class C 8-man ranks, and they kick off the season this Saturday at home against rival Charlo. The Vikings finished second in Class C two years ago. Game time is 7 p.m.
Plains plays in the 10-team Western Division of Class C. “We have the toughest division in the state,” Fultz said.
Last season, the Horsemen qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in more than 50 years. They lost to Tri-Cities in the first round, although the game was knotted 20-20 at halftime.
“We were right there but couldn’t quite pull it off,” Fultz said.
He expects the returning players to take that confidence booster into this season.
Plains has 25 players out for the sport, but some are bothered by various injuries.
Key players were lost via graduation, including quarterback Kyle Weeks and running back Tanner Ovit.
THERE ARE six Horsemen seniors this season. Rusty Stewart (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) is a returning all-state guard and nose tackle, and is a college prospect. “He’s got a mean streak,” Fultz said, and is the best nose tackle in the state in at least Class C.
Other seniors are Orion Pry-Hyde (wingback/cornerback), Malachi Paulsen (wingback/defensive end), Jacob Peterson (guard or tight end/defensive line or linebacker) and Matt McCracken, new to the program.
Plains juniors include 6-foot, 225-pound Esvin Reyes (center/middle linebacker). Fultz calls him a “college linebacker in waiting.” He’s two seasons away from that opportunity.
The other juniors are football newcomers Conrad Vanderwall (running back/safety) and Nathan McNulty (running back/cornerback).
Treydon Brouillette is slotted in as the starter at quarterback and cornerback, though he didn’t play football last season.
“He’s pretty celebral player. He’s about as shifty as shifty gets. He’s quick and fast,” Fultz said of Brouillette; “He’s a run-pass threat for sure.”
Plains has excellent size in the sophomore class, which includes 6-foot, 240-pound Tucker Foster (tight end/defensive end) and 6-4, 260 Parker Flock (guard/defensive line).
Plains has depth at running back, with six who can play there compared to just two last season.
“Last year, we had to play a lot of guys both ways (offense and defense),” Fultz said. “We should be able to keep guys a little more fresh (this season). They’ve totally bought into our conditioning.”
THE HORSEMEN roster will show only four freshmen, who Fultz said will play on the JV team. Six such games are on the schedule.
Plains had a scrimmage last Thursday night. “We have a ton of new players who have not played football before,” Fultz said. “We have a lot of things to clean up. We’re pretty sloppy at this point. We have a lot of guys vying for positions.”
Fultz sees Flint Creek and Charlo as contenders for Western Division honors, while the next few places are up for grabs.
“Behind that (Flint Creek and Charlo), we’re going to be in that discussion,” Fultz said, along with Arlee and Mission. He said Darby and Clark Fork will field improved teams.
CONTRARY TO last season, all nine of Plains’ games are within the division. That means conference foe Charlo right out of the starting gate. In week two, the Horsemen play at Seeley on Friday, Aug. 31.
There are three Saturday games on the varsity schedule, against Charlo, Darby and Victor.