Last year, the Box Elder Bears had a magical season on the gridiron, making it all the way to the Class C 6-Man State Title Game before falling to then division rival Denton-Geyser-Stanford. Despite losing eight seniors, kids have caught football fever in Box Elder, as record numbers turned out for fall camp.
Head Coach Neal Rosette Jr. says they had to order more equipment after nearly 20 players showed up earlier this month. Box Elder will need a lot of them to step up after graduating five all-state performers from last season. Guys like Jerrod Four Colors, Shane Ketchum and Brandon 'The Boy' leave big shoes to fill.
Rosette says for the first few games, he'll use a quarterback by committee approach until Pernell Morsette returns from injury. He also says they'll go bigger at running back. 'Big' would be a good way to sum up the communities expectations after last season. However, the team is taking a 'one-game-at-a-time' approach.
"They are more anxious than worried, they just want to get back out there. And the support is always going to be great. Whether we're 1-8 or making it to the semis, the support is always there. I think once we get going and get some games under our belt, we'll surprise some teams," Rosette Jr. says.
"They hope that we can make it back and so do I, but some things never go the way you want them to so we just take it one game at a time and one practice at a time," Senior center Bernard Striker adds.
The Bears also know that opponents will be gunning for them this season. With DGS moving up to 8-Man, Box Elder is the top returning 6-Man team in the state, and they will be tested early and often.
"We knocked off some schools last year that are going to be hungry. We'll go in there with a target on their back. Sunburst, North Star and Valier, they are going to be hungry and they're going to be after us. And we're going to have to expect it. These boys are going to have to expect it. We're kind of young right now, but this is going to give us experience moving forward," Rosette Jr. says.
"Oh yeah, especially with this Hot Springs team coming up. They're going to feel like they want to get back at us, close game last year. I don't know how it's going to go this year, but we're all going to battle," senior running back Lane Caplette says.
That game against Hot Springs is the season opener for both teams and will be a rematch of last year's state semifinal game which Box Elder won 42-40. Kickoff is set for 1pm in Box Elder.