When Kyle Samson was an all-state senior quarterback at Helena Capital, one of the hardest teams he had to face was the Flathead Braves.
Now Samson is returning to Kalispell to rebuild the Braves into the powerhouse he remembers.
Samson, a former Montana Gatorade Player of the Year with seven years of coaching experience in the college ranks, has been selected as the next head football coach at Flathead High School.
Activities Director Bryce Wilson confirmed late Monday that Samson accepted the offer after emerging as the top candidate among three other finalists and 13 total applicants.
“As a player I remember how tough it was to play up in Kalispell. Back then it was always us and Kalispell and CMR and Billings West competing for a state title,” Samson told the Beacon. “That’s my goal: I want to bring back that tradition of Flathead being one of the top AA schools in the state.”
A nine-person committee selected Samson after a series of interviews with finalists last weekend and will recommend him to the Kalispell School District board of trustees to finalize the hire.
Samson, 29, will replace Russell McCarvel, who resigned last month after seven seasons.
The Braves were 3-7 last year and have accrued a 23-50 record since 2007.
Samson has served on the football staff at MSU-Northern in Havre for seven years, including the past six years as the team’s offensive coordinator under his father Mark, the team’s head coach. Samson was Northern’s starting QB from 2004 -2006 and a three-year captain after transferring from the University of Montana, where he played as a true freshman.
At Helena Capital, he was the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year in 2002. As a senior quarterback, he passed for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,200 yards and another 17 TDs. He guided the Bruins past the Braves in the semifinal round of the Class AA playoffs and eventually cap an undefeated state champion season. He was also a standout basketball player and track athlete at Helena Capital and maintained a 3.6 GPA.
Samson said the opportunity to become a head coach appealed to him, especially at a school like Flathead that has such a rich tradition.
“Growing up in a coaching family with my dad and my grandfather being coaches, I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. That’s been a long goal of mine,” he said. “When the Kalispell job opened up — it’s a school with a great tradition and I’ve always had great respect for them and how they ran their program — I couldn’t pass up on that opportunity.”
Samson said he plans to assemble his coaching staff in the next few weeks and hopes to be fully established in Kalispell by June. He and his wife have a young son and daughter and he plans to teach at the high school.
As far as what fans and players should expect to see on the field, Samson said his system is best described as a “power spread,” featuring multiple schemes that are quarterback-based, similar to the high-octane teams he played for at Capital. But it will also depend on personnel, he said, and he looks forward to meeting the players and adapting to their skills.
“I can’t wait to get over there and get going to work,” he said.
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