Todd Emslie shies away from predictions. But one thing he’s not afraid of declaring is that this year’s Bigfork Vikings will be fun to watch.
With an athletic and agile quarterback in Josh Sandry, and a team full of state champion basketball players and track standouts, it’s not hard to imagine.
Bigfork is back on the field with high hopes and plenty of enthusiasm as another fall season approaches. The team’s first game is Sept. 5 at home against Choteau.
A year ago, Bigfork achieved its first undefeated regular season in 25 years and finished 9-1 after falling in the quarterfinal round of the Class B state playoffs.
Then in the winter, the boys basketball team won the state championship, the program’s first.
Spring had its fair share of successes, too.
The widespread success should carry over to yet another exciting football season.
“I’m excited. We’re ready to roll,” Emslie, the head coach, said. “Our expectations are that No. 1 it stays fun and No. 2 that we are able to compete in every football game. We’ve been able to do that the last few years. There are some good kids on this team, and if we stay healthy, these kids will be competitive in all of their games. They’ll be a fun team to watch.”
What stands out most about this Vikings squad is its athleticism.
“From our linemen to the running backs and linebackers, they’re very athletic,” Emslie said. “They’ll be flying around the ball.”
Sandry is a multi-sport athlete who stepped into the starting quarterback role a year ago and shined immediately. Now he’s a senior with experience and is coming off a spring track season where he won the Class B high jump state title. He spent the offseason bulking up even more and preparing for his final year, which should be a great one.
Last week Sandry verbally committed to play at the University of Montana next fall, according to the Missoulian.
Sandry will have lots of talented receivers at his disposal, including a few basketball teammates: Adam Jordt, Jon Landon and Isaac Martel. Vinny Quirk will lead the rushing attack with a strong line opening up the holes.
“We’ve had kids that have been really good in the weight room this summer,” Emslie said.
Bigfork has developed into a perennial contender in Class B. Since 2010, the team has an overall record of 36-7.
Most of the losses have come in the playoffs against the top teams from the East. Last year, Bigfork scored 22 second-half points to defeat Townsend in the opening round of the playoffs. But in the quarterfinals, Baker came to town and edged out a victory, 34-28.
Baker went on to play for the championship but lost to Missoula Loyola, which capped another undefeated season with the title, winning 30-13.
Loyola could be a contender once again, along with Fairfield, Conrad, Choteau and Shelby. In the West, Bigfork will try to hold its own among Eureka and Deer Lodge, two teams that could have strong seasons.
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