As time ticks down to another season, Coach Tony Arntson says Helena high needs one thing.
“Leadership is what we need,” Arntson said.
Last year, leadership came from 21 seniors. This season, Coach Arntson must replace a quarterback and two defensive linemen that signed to play in the Frontier Conference. What’s his priority?
“Definitely defense,” Arntson said. “We’re going to make sure that thing is locked in before anything else.”
Coach will not have to worry about Kendall Johnson, the 6-foot-2 , 195 lbs senior is accepting his new role as captain of the defense.
“It’s really important that I feel in the role that some of those seniors left behind,” said Kendall Johnson. “I think me along with the other seniors will be able to pick up the slack.”
Offensively, the running backs are finally healthy after an injury-filled 2015. And with a new quarterback, that places a lot of pressure in the backfield.
“Hopefully I can just buckle down and show these guys what it’s really like to be a Bengal,” Ryan Arntson said.
And across town, Capital also started practice.
The Bruins finished one game short of the state finals. Carter Pappas hasn’t forgotten the semifinals lost to Billings Senior.
“I think about it lot,” Carter Pappas said. “Especially when I’m in the weight room.”
Second-year coach Kyle Mihelish lost 17 starters. He says today was an eye-opening experience.
“You don’t realize that you lost somebody until practice starts that following spring or fall,” Mihelish said.
Offensive linemen Marcus Welnel understands he must step up and fill the void, and even on day one, he’s locked in on the prize.
“Winning it all,” Welnel said. “That’s always the goal and that’s what the goal is now.”