Thompson Falls head football coach Jared Koskela has cultivated a reputation for himself for carving out identities for teams that are lacking in experience, and getting them to forge together to make a mid- to late-season improvement.
This spring, Koskela took an inexperienced softball team and had them vying for a possible Class B-C playoff spot by the end of the year. After his Bluehawks football team lost 45-0 in their season-opening game to Townsend, Koskela knows he has some more restoration work to do.
“It would almost be identical to softball because some of our football players basically had two years off and we knew it would be a rough start,” Koskela said. “Our quarterback didn’t play JV but now he is starting varsity this year and it is understandable there would be some growing pains.”
Koskela said he was “impressed” with the number of players Townsend had as his team suffered the road loss.
“They came in with 40 or so kids and they had some good personnel,” Koskela said. “The big difference between them and us was they had a good summer program. You can tell their receivers and quarterback were really comfortable (with each other) versus our team, who did not have a summer program and decided not to commit to football in the off season. And Townsend was really comfortable, but for us, the experience just wasn’t there.”
During the course of the game, the Bluehawks, who have a solid offensive and defensive front, according to Koskela, suffered some injuries.
“We had some injuries on the offensive line and our non-commitment to the weight room during the summer also showed, “ Koskela said. “I said to them ‘hey, if we want to play football, we have to do more than just show up August through October.’”
HEADED INTO week two, T-Falls is playing Cut Bank team that is hungry for a victory. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday in the Bluehawks’ home opener.
“We aren’t going to get completely throttled like we did against Townsend,” Koskela said. “We are looking at this game as a confidence booster. We beat them last year, so we shall see.”
In 2016, Cut Bank was a team that many thought could go far in the Class B 11-man playoffs. They qualified in 2016 and the Bluehawks defeated Cut Bank last season, giving them one of two victories last year.
“We played them during that time and they were a good team,” Koskela said. “We beat them the previous year (in 2015) and they beat us up in Cut Bank (in 2016). They were a really good team that year. We beat them last year and they don’t have a lot coming back. It will be a new team we are playing and a new team for us.
“(In the first week) They got killed by Eureka and this game is going to be two teams that are hungry for a win and really a test to see who is the better team on Friday. They have some weapons and you have to pick and choose which ones that you are going to battle and try to eliminate.”
Koskela credited Townsend with their ability to play.
“They look really similar to Eureka and all of those pieces they have to win a state title,” Koskela said. “It is quite strange in a good way that we got to face them first.”
As the Bluehawks prepare to head into the second game against Cut Bank, he expects to see a balanced attack of run and pass on offense.
“They are both 50-50 right now,” Koskela said. “They will try to pass on us. They run out of a pistol two-back system, and they like to get their guys on the outside and burn some defensive backs. They’ll pass early because they won’t want to run against our defensive front because my line can withstand their line. If they are forced to pass, that may be our weakest part of our defense. They will try to hit us over the pass because they ain’t going through our line.”