AP NEWS

Prep notebook: Laurel is ready for some football

September 8, 2016 GMT

With the fall sports season in full swing, here are some notes and storylines from around the high school football scene.

Laurel’s wait is over

Halloween of 2015 was the last time Laurel suited up for a football game.

And after four weeks of practicing and scrimmaging, the Locomotives will finally kick off their 2016 season.

Laurel will travel to Belgrade (1-1) on Friday to take on a Panther team looking to rebound from a 38-14 loss to Billings Central.

Though they haven’t yet taken the field, the Locomotives are 1-0 because their original season opener against Livingston was forfeited by the Rangers last Friday.

For head coach Mike Ludwig and his team, they’re just excited to start seeing someone else on the field.

“It’s just time,” he said. “The kids, not that they’re getting bored, but they’re just getting tired of seeing the same people over and over again.”

The Locomotives defeated Belgrade in Laurel last year 34-14.

In the past, Laurel used to start the season against Cody after two weeks of practice. However, the past couple of years saw that series to an end, giving Laurel three weeks until opening night. The forfeiture of Livingston this year added that extra week of waiting onto the schedule.

Last Thursday the Locomotives held a 50-play scrimmage on offense and defense to help the players adjust to an in-game feel. The scrimmage allowed the coaches to identify areas of improvement while also giving the players a chance to see the mistakes and understand how to correct them.

Ludwig also said the players got a chance to practice the pre-game routine and also get any early jitters out of the way.

“The main thing was to get our players on film so we could break it down and have them watch it,” Ludwig said. “Just so they could see themselves and see the mistakes that they’re making. It helped for us as coaches just to see mistakes players were making and where we could step back and say alright, we need to work more on this.”

One of the more important aspects to their practices for Ludwig has been the conditioning. He said the best way to get into game shape is playing a full football game, but conditioning will help as they head to Belgrade.

“I’m ready,” he said laughing. “I was probably ready two weeks ago. It’s getting old and everybody’s ready. All of our coaches, our players, our fans. Everybody is chomping at the bit to get a regular game in.”

Project gains early momentum

It was only the second game of the season for Huntley Project, but the Red Devils earned a big 21-14 Class B victory on the road against Malta this past Friday.

Project scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 21-7 lead. Both passing scores were from quarterback Tylan Croy to receiver Keenan Reynolds.

“Anytime you go to Malta, a good program rich in tradition, on the road and early in the season it’s nice to come away with a win,” Project coach Guy Croy said.

“Our defense was pretty strong all night and we had a lot of penalties that stopped several of our offensive drives and we finally were able to put a couple together,” he added. “(Tylan and Keenan) have played a lot of games together from seventh grade to now. They just understand each other and have a good feel for one another.”

Croy said the Red Devils (2-0) played the game without Lane Sumner, one of the team’s best athletes.

“That I was proud of. Finding a way to win without one of your best players,” he said of his team’s performance. “We’re going to get him and a lineman back this week and we feel good about going up there being a little shorthanded and finding a way to get it done.”

Project will be at home this week, as they host the Columbus Cougars (0-1) on Friday.

Livingston returns to action

It’s been a whirlwind of events happening within the Livingston football program, and after forfeiting its first two games of the season, the Rangers will host the Glendive Red Devils for their season opener.

Head coach Jon Willyerd confirmed on Wednesday that the team will have the numbers to field a team on Friday.

“After all the kids have been through over the past month it’s going to be a relief,” Willyerd said. “They’re excited.”

Livingston (0-2) forfeited games against Stevensville and Laurel during the first two weeks. Glendive (0-1) is coming off of a 22-20 loss to Glasgow from last Friday.

After former head coach Bruce Knerr was fired just before the season began and the team dealt with some player suspensions through the first two games, Willyerd and his team are ready to move forward with their first look at game action.

“I’m ready to see where we’re at, where we need to go,” he said.

Friday Night Lights

• Billings will be the host city of two big games on Friday, as Senior (2-0) and West (2-0) kick off at 7 p.m. at Daylis Stadium. Central (1-0) will host a tough Dillon (1-0) team out at Herb Klindt Field at Rocky Mountain College’s campus at 7 p.m. as well. Class A will also see another good match up as Miles City (1-1) will travel to Havre (2-0) to take on the Blue Ponies.

• Shepherd (2-0) will host a Malta (0-1) team looking to rebound from that tough loss at home against Huntley Project. Big Timber (1-1) will have a road test as they travel to take on the Manhattan Tigers (2-0), a team that has yet to allow a point so far this season.

• On Saturday in 8-Man, Scobey (2-0) will travel to Wibaux (2-0) for an early battle of undefeated teams. In 6-Man, Richey-Lambert (1-0) travels to Bainville (2-0) to take on the offensive juggernaut Bulldogs. Reed Point-Rapelje (2-0) will visit Roy-Winifred (1-1).

• Add Sheridan to the list of teams forfeiting games this season. The Panthers had just five healthy players available for this week’s game against Valley Christian and will likely be on a week-to-week basis for playing future games.