MISSOULA, Mont. - For the past two seasons the Loyola Rams have become a dominant force on the class 'B' gridiron. Not only have the Rams won back-to-back state titles, they've also had back-to-back undefeated seasons.
"Well we always start 0-0," said Loyola head football coach Todd Hughes. "We have a reputation to uphold so you know that can't be hidden."
"I think we're just going to approach it one game at a time, work hard, hopefully get the win," said Rams senior Tommy Tirrell. "We're not going to put too much pressure on making sure we win all the games even though we do want to, we just want to take it game by game."
"Being undefeated for the last two years, there's always a target put on our back," said Loyola senior Braden Burke. "We're the team that everybody wants to beat, so there's a lot of pressure to go into it. Our team has been working hard and I think we know what we're doing and we'll have a good chance of going again this year."
This year Loyola will have a new look team not just with the players, but also at head coach. Last year's defensive coordinator Todd Hughes takes over the reigns for Dan Weber who stepped away from coaching after guiding the Rams to back-to-back-state titles.
"He was a great mentor to me, so there's not going to be a whole lot of change," said Hughes. "My philosophy is why fix something that's not broke."
"Oh you know coach Hughes has been great," said Tirrell. "Having him on defense last year and now he's the head coach I think it was a great move by the school to make him head coach."
"We'll I've been really close with coach Hughes because I've been a linebacker, and he coaches them, so I've been with him since freshman year," said Burke. "He's been a really close coach to me and it's been great to have him be the head coach now."
One thing Loyola does know how to do is replace seniors who graduated. It will be no different this year, and the Rams are confident in their abilities to step up to the challenge.
"We've go a lot of experience coming back," said Hughes. "We've got a lot of youth that's excited about being part of that tradition so that carries over well."
"We've always learned a lot from the teams ahead of us," said Burke. "It's not always just the coaches teaching us in drills, the seniors will step up and let us know when we're doing something and they've been able to teach us a lot of what we know."
"They were great role models for all of us younger kids starting out as sophomores," said Tirrell. "Just to fill in those steps, you know it's a big role to fill but I think we're up to the task."
Loyola will open up the 2014 football season at home against Fairfield on September 5th.