The Great Falls Central Catholic football team is off to a great start this season with a 6-1 record, but getting to this point hasn't been easy. Whenever the players face adversity, they come together and dig deep.
To some who look up and down the GFCC sideline, the shovel the team has is just another tool. But for the Mustangs, it's a symbol.
"The shovel represents how we dig, and how we keep fighting, and how we never stop on the field," says senior running back Nick Wilkins.
It's a tradition that goes back more than six years, before current head coach Mike Nelson even took over. He says the idea came from another coach, Conrad Duffy, who used a shovel as a metaphor in the past.
"He brought the idea along and we've been going with it ever since," Nelson says. "Dig deep when things are going rough when you get yourself in a hole you have to dig your way out of it so that's kind of been our thing."
The shovel doesn't just rest on the sideline or in a storage closet. During weekly team meals, or as the Mustangs call it, Dig Dinners, the shovel is held by whomever wants to give a group speech.
"It shows respect for the person that's talking," says sophomore defensive back Ethan Vincent.
"It's just a chance for us players to speak and say what we need to say and get the other players in the right mindset for the game the next day," Wilkins says.
"When the guy gets up and talks it's always out there ," Nelson says. "The kids seem to respond to it pretty well and get everything together."
This isn't just any shovel. It's painted in the team's colors and bears multiple stars on its shaft to represent each win the team has up to that point in the season. And whenever the Mustangs get complacent, coaches and parents yell "dig deep."
"Keep digging, keep fighting, and do what we can to win," Wilkins says.
"Hopefully it gets you all fired up," Nelson says. "You're always looking to find something that gives you a bit of an edge. Sometimes maybe that dig deep concept is it for us."