BILLINGS — Billings West’s final football game last season was heartbreaking – a 24-15 loss to Missoula Sentinel in the State AA title game. The Golden Bears have had plenty of time to stew on that loss preparing for this season.
“I’ve thought about it actually a lot. I think everyone here has thought about it more than we really should, but we’re kind of putting it behind us,” said senior Caden Dowler. “We’re still using that as motivation, but we’re putting it behind us and going into Week 1 with a new mindset.”
“It stung a lot. Last year we worked hard and it didn’t work out,” said senior Taco Dowler. “In the weight room we have a picture of the scoreboard. Everyday going into lifting it’s all you think about. It’s what gets you up in the morning.”
The Dowler brothers and West won’t have to wait long for a chance at payback. The Bears will make the near 350-mile trek to Missoula to open the season against the Spartans on Friday, Aug. 27.
“They look really good. They return some really good players even though they lost a bunch of really good players. They still look really good and we’re excited to see how we match up against them,” said Caden.
“We’re excited. They’re a different team, we’re a different team, so we don’t know how it’s going to go. Hopefully we’ll get our playmakers in space and make some plays and get it done,” Taco said.
Week 1 will be a rematch of last year’s state championship game between what should be two of the top Class AA teams once again. That showcase between the Bears and Spartans will take place at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
“It’s the first game back from COVID, so hopefully they’ll allow more people in the stands just because they’ll be able to space out, if that’s a possibility,” Taco said. “It will just be fun. It will be a good atmosphere and two good teams going at it, so it’ll be fun.”
“This summer we all went there for a camp and it’s actually insane there,” Caden said of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. “It’s so high and so much different than anything we’ve ever played in. It’s going to be sweet. It’s going to be really cool.”
All the motivation West needs for this season hangs on that picture in the weight room.