By Bill Foley
Eyston Lakkala turned Friday afternoon into Family Day at the Butte Central Rotunda.
Surrounded by four generations of family, the Butte Central senior officially signed to play football at Montana Tech.
“It’s awesome,” Lakkala said of the gathering. “That’s what’s it all about.”
The gathering included Lakkala’s great-grandmother Gwenn Fisher, his grandparents John and Pam Jeffery, aunt Alysha Jeffery, parents Airika and Scott and siblings Laikynn, Burkley and Boston.
It also included a packed house of educators, coaches, classmates and teammates.
“It’s pretty cool that they’re all here from me,” Lakkala said. “They’ve been here for me since freshman year. It’s just a dream come true, I guess.”
Before Lakkala singed the documents to back up his verbal commitment of Nov. 9, Butte Central principal J.P. Williams addressed the students and Lakkala himself.
“Eyston, this is your day,” Williams said. “This is all about family.”
Lakkala pumped his fist to a large ovation after completing the signing.
“You do a great job in the class room. You represent your community well,” Tech coach Kyle Samson told Lakkala. “We’re excited to have you up on the hill. We feel like we’re read.”
BC coach Don Peoples Jr. pointed out that he also coached Lakkala’s father.
“This really makes me feel old,” Peoples said. “This is the second generation of All-State players.”
Lakkala’s family members took turns talking about the newest Oredigger.
“I’m super excited to see what he can bring to Tech,” Scott Lakkala said of his son.
“We are so excited to see what he does on the field,” his mother said. “He will work hard, and I know he will make Montana Tech proud.”
Lakkala followed with, “Hey, roll Digs” before the BC students almost broke into the time-honored cheer, “Eat s— Carroll, go Tech go.” Almost.
Lakkala’s signing comes four days after he was named All-State on defense, where he will likely play for the Orediggers. Lakkala played kind of a hybrid linebacker/safety position for the Maroons, and Samson says he likes that.
“I see him in kind of that tweener, rover, nickel guy,” Samson said. “I think he’s a kid that tackles really well, and he’s a really good athlete. So, I think defensive is where we’re going to start him out.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Lakkala, a three-year starter at BC, was also an accomplished running back for the Maroons, and that was something Samson took note of.
“I think he’s a really good running back, too,” Samson said. “He’s very physical. He’s got very good wheels.”
The coach also praised Lakkala’s leadership skills and competitiveness.
“He never gave up,” Samson said. “He always kept fighting.”
Peoples noted that Lakkala will make 10 former Maroons to be playing college football next season.
“For a school our size, that’s remarkable,” Peoples said.
A good percentage of those former Maroons are Orediggers, and Samson said he wants to continue to build his program with a strong base of Butte players.
“We’re going to continue to try to get as many Butte kids up the hill as we can,” Samson said. “It’s a big deal.”
Lakkala has not declared a major yet. He likes the options the school presents, though.
“It’s really more than just the football part,” Lakkala said. “It’s about going to a school that’s going to get me a good education and potentially graduate with a really good degree.
“The football part is great, too,” Lakkala added. “It’s a dream come true to play college football. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be awesome.”