All the offseason workouts. All those long hours in the weight room. All the beating up on each other at practice.
All those things lead to Friday when the Butte High football team opens the season against perennial title contender Great Falls Russell.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Naranche Stadium.
“We’re excited to get out and play somebody besides ourselves,” Butte High fifth-year coach Arie Grey said.
The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances (going 5-6 both years), and Grey said his is happy with where his team is heading into the season opener.
“We’re leap years ahead of where we’ve been in the past with what we have installed and what the kids picked up,” Grey said. “Everything is progressing the way we wanted to.”
Grey said the Bulldogs spent the last week cleaning up some minor problems the coaching staff saw in the Purple and White Game on Friday night.
Butte High fans — and potential CMR spies in the crowd — didn’t get an accurate look at the Bulldogs, who scaled back their offensive and defensive looks during the practice game. Butte High also huddled before each play, something that won’t happen during the season.
Butte High runs a fast-paced, no-huddle offense designed to run as many offensive plays as possible during the game.
Junior quarterback Dallas Cook is in charge of that offense.
Cook, who would be big for a defensive lineman at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, has some experience playing varsity ball. He’s mobile and he has a cannon for an arm. Grey said Cook also has that special presence about him necessary to be a good quarterback.
“He’s got confidence on the field,” the coach said. “He’s a true leader for us. He did so much for us in the offseason.”
The left-handed Cook has a ton of weapons at his disposal.
Seniors Dalton Daum, Jon Allen, Kaedon Caprara and Bryce Armstrong give the Bulldogs some big-play potential in the passing game.
Tight end Tyler Earles, a 6-3 junior, is a big target who has stood out during practice.
Grey said the Bulldogs would like to have a balanced attack between the running game and passing game. The running part of that equation is in good hands.
The offensive line has the luxury of paving the way for two solid running backs. Those backs, in turn, have the luxury of running behind a massive and experienced offensive line.
Butte High’s front five returns four starters from last year. Two of those starters — Anthony Moritz (6-1, 280 pounds) and Nick Butorovich (6-4, 300) — have been starting since they were sophomores.
The seniors will make up the right side of the line with Moritz at guard and Butorovich at tackle.
Junior center Dustin LaMiaux (6-0, 240) is the only new starter to the offensive front.
Senior tackle Zach Erickson (6-0, 220) and senior guard Drew Schleeman (6-3, 215) return to the left side.
“That’s always nice when you’ve got four guys returning and two of them are three-year starters,” Grey said. “That’s a huge deal. Offensively, we’re going to have to hang our hat on those guys.”
The starting running backs give the Bulldogs a one-two punch that is top-notch.
Senior Zach Bunney (5-7, 165) and junior Jake Eisenbarth (5-7, 160) are similar in size. They are different players, though
Bunney, who missed last season while fighting leukemia, is Butte High’s explosive threat. The speedy, quick back, Grey said, is a threat to take the ball all the way on any carry.
Eisenbarth is more of a bruising back who punishes tacklers and would-be tacklers.
Bunny also makes up a quarter of the Bulldog secondary, starting at corner back.
Junior Andre Vialpando starts at the other corner spot. Seniors Tanner Tregidga and Jarret Rowling are the safeties.
“That’s one of the fastest defensive backfields we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Grey said.
Seniors Daniel Kloepfel and Billy Robinson are the ends surrounding nose guard Moritz on the defensive line.
“They’re the leaders of the team on the defensive side of the ball,” Grey said of the front thre.
They’ll take up blockers for a linebacker corps that Grey called “tough” and “hard-nosed.”
Seniors Jake Dennehy and Blake Kraus are the men in the middle of that group. Big things are expected from Nate Matteson and Bo Taylor outside linebacker.
“I really like our defense,” Grey said. “They all played together all year on JV. They pursue and have great energy. They get to the ball and create turnovers.
“We want to create turnovers and be great in the red zone,” Grey said. “If we can do those two things, we’ll be a great defense.”
The Bulldogs will be looking for a fast start in their quest for a third straight playoff appearance. Three of Butte High’s first four games are at Naranche.
The Bulldogs play at Billings Skyview next week before returning home Sept. 7 to take on Missoula Hellgate on Silver B’s Night.
Butte High then takes on Billings West Sept. 14 for homecoming.
Butte High alternates home and road games —playing at Billings Senior, home against Bozeman, at Missoula Big Sky, home against defending Class AA champion Helena Capital — before closing at Helena High and Missoula Sentinel.
“Every week you’re going to have to bring your game and play hard,” Grey said of the schedule.
The coach called the Class AA “wide open.”
“There’s a lot of teams that are going to be tough week in and week out,” Grey said.
CMR brings in a lot of experience to Naranche. They have one of the most decorated coaches in Montana history in Jack Johnson, and they come in with decades of success under their belts.
“What a great opener they are,” Grey said. “I’m excited to play them. You’ve got to be on your game against CMR.”
Click below to see the complete schedule.
2012 Butte High Bulldogs
Arie Grey (5th season)
QB — Dallas Cook, 6-4, 210, jr
RB — Zach Bunney, 5-7, 165, sr; Jake Eisenbarth, 5-7, 160, jr
WR — Dalton Daum, 6-1, 165, sr; Jon Allen, 5-11, 160, sr
Slot — Kaedon Caprara, 5-11, 145, sr
Z —Bryce Armstron, 5-10, 165, sr
LT — Zach Erickson, 6-0, 220, sr.
LG — Drew Schleeman, 6-3, 215, sr
C — Dustin LaMiaux, 6-0, 240, jr
RG — Anthony Moritz, 6-1, 280, sr
RT — Nick Butorovich, 6-4, 300, sr
TE — Tyler Earles, 6-3, 190, jr
E — Daniel Kloepfel, 5-11, 200, sr; Billy Robinson, 6-0, 225, sr
NG — Moritz
OLB — Nate Matteson, 5-10, 175, sr; Bo Taylor, 5-8, 150, sr
ILB — Jake Dennehy, 6-3, 195, sr; Blake Kraus, 5-8, 190, sr
S — Tanner Tregidga, 5-11, 170, sr; Jarret Rowling, 5-11, 150, sr
C — Bunny; Andre Vialpando, 6-0, 160, sr