Bigger, faster, stronger. The Bulldog football team is looking like it could make some noise this season in the wide open Northwestern A conference.
Two-a-day practices began Friday with more than 50 boys in attendance, including a solid crew of 12 seniors.
Head coach Chad Ross is excited about the turnout and the overall conditioning of his veterans who will be asked to play on both sides of the ball.
“Across the board they’re in the best shape I’ve seen,” Ross said. “I told them to be ready for practices. Now we can spend more time game planning.”
The most notable advantages of the Dogs’ roster this season are its size and speed.
“Those are two good components we’ve been lacking,” Ross said.
In fact, 14 players ran the 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds at Friday’s practice.
The receiving corps is stacked with speedsters with good hands, offensive coordinator Eric May said. At Monday’s practice, senior Walter Holliday and junior Luke Cardon pulled in some great catches, showing a glimpse of the season to come.
Ross is excited about the prospects of senior David Rizzolo at receiver.
Sophomore quarterback Luke May bulked up over the summer and looked sharp throwing deep passes and shorter routes during drills on Monday. May led the league in passing last year with more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Ross says May is working on making quicker reads.
“We know he has the physical ability,” he said.
162-pound senior Sean Foley will have a hefty workload as a featured running back, defensive back, receiver and returning kick-offs and punts. Foley tallied 460 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season.
“We’ll try to get him the ball as much as we can,” Ross said.
The starting line averages more than 200 pounds, a significant upgrade over the past few years. However, depth could be a problem up front, Ross said, if Whitefish gets hit by the injury bug.
Senior offensive and defensive lineman Gage Smith comes into the season at about 220 pounds and in great condition. Helping anchor the line will be Aaron Togerson, newcomer Mark Scanlen, sophomore Chaffin Ross, and returning to the team after a few years playing hockey is Koler Kanistanaux.
Kanistanaux, 6-foot, 210-pounds, ran the 40 in 4.8 seconds and could be a force at fullback.
“We’re excited about what he has to offer,” Ross said.
Calub Thilmony will also carry the ball.
Ross noted that it’s been five years since the Dogs had as much size in the backfield.
Whitefish will run a true spread offense and allow Luke May to find the open man.
Ross would like to see the team cut back on penalties and turnovers.
“We have to focus on not beating ourselves,” Ross said. “We had too many penalties last year. We have to make other teams beat us.”
The Bulldogs open the season at home Aug. 31 with the annual railroad game against the Blue Ponies of Havre. The afternoon game will kickoff at 2 p.m.