One of the most miraculous story lines of this year's state football playoffs has been the journey of the Shelby Coyotes.
The team is searching for its first state football title since 1988, and is one win away from doing so.
Just two games into the season, the Shelby football team looked to be dead in the water: the Coyotes were 0-2 and their star quarterback Aaron White was battling a knee injury. While some teams would throw in the towel, the Coyotes never lost faith.
"We knew once we got healthy that we were one of the best teams in the state," said senior running back Zach Torgerson.
White slapped a knee brace on, wide receiver Logan Watson returned from injury, and Shelby went on a run. Now, in the final week of the fall sports season, the Coyotes are in a position to win a Class B state title.
"We play for each other, we play for this town, and we play for what's on our jersey," said head coach Mike White.
That mantra by head coach Mike White spearheaded the Coyotes run to the chipper. Shelby's playoff wins this year over Bigfork, Whitehall, and Loyola Sacred Heart are by a combined 7 points. If Saturday's championship is a tight ballgame, the Coyotes have the experience to steal one in Eureka.
"They just battle to the end, they've had to battle to the end, until that final horn goes off," White said.
Coach White says the buzz around the state is that Lincoln County High School is the odds-on favorite to repeat as state champs. The Lions are undefeated and have championship game experience. But that doesn't phase the Coyotes. The team believes in itself and that's all that matters.
"You go against an opponent and you go in there with the mindset that you're going to win," said senior quarterback Aaron White.
His dad added "I don't think anyone expects us to win except for those in this town. We're okay with that. We like what we do, we like what we bring to the table, and our kids are excited to go play Eureka."
Shelby has been wearing jerseys from the 1988 championship season all week during practice. The team won't wear the throwbacks in Saturday's game, but maybe just enough magic will have rubbed off by then to give this year's team a championship of their own.