KNOW THE FOE: Young Billings West team set to challenge Flathead

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Fresh off its first loss of the 2017 season, Flathead will attempt to rebound this week on a long road trip to Billings West.

The Golden Bears are off to a 0-2 start and need a win to avoid falling out of the playoff picture early in the season.

Flathead is looking to respond to a 30-24 defeat at Helena Capital last week and vault itself to the top of a scrum of teams jostling for positions in the middle of the Class AA standings.

Kyle Hansen of the Billings Gazette and joins us to preview Billings West in our third installment of Know the Foe, a weekly question-and-answer series previewing Flathead and Glacier opponents.

Billings West enters this game 0-2, but both losses have come against one of four 2-0 teams in the state. How much should we read into West’s record?

Kyle Hansen: I would say they are a little bit better than their 0-2 record implies because they have lost two close games with two very solid teams in Class AA. This is a young West team and to stick around with Missoula Big Sky and Bozeman is impressive. That being said, they do have quite a bit of room to grow, and after letting their lead slip against Bozeman I think they realize that. They have proved that they can stay competitive with some good teams. Now they just have to get over the hump and finish what they started, and their record is an example of that.

What has surprised you most about West through the first two games?

KH: Honestly, what has surprised me the most is how quickly the team has adapted to some of its new starters in such a short period of time. After a rough start against Big Sky they came back to make the game interesting late. Then last week, they were beating Bozeman 14-0 and lost the lead in the final five minutes. So with a new core group of players, they have shown some potential. I think once they find a way to win that will do wonders for the team’s confidence going forward.

What should Flathead fans expect from West in Week 3?

KH: I think they should expect a team that is hungry for its first win. In Week 1, they gave up a record number of yards to Levi Janacaro at Big Sky and in Week 2 blew a late lead against Bozeman. As a team that sits 0-2, I think they are tired of losing and realize that they are kind of in a spot where a win is getting a little more dire, with games against Billings Senior, Helena Capital, and Missoula Sentinel looming after their meeting with Flathead.

Who are some specific players to watch out for?

KH: For West, junior quarterback Alex Bruns is one player to keep an eye on. Running backs Cade Nelson, a junior, and DeMarcus Carr, a sophomore, provide solid production out of the backfield while junior receiver Jesse Owns is another player to keep an eye on. Si Ryan, a senior defensive back, has been a solid producer for West’s staunch defense as well.

Score prediction?

KH: Because it is a tough road game for Flathead, I’m giving this one to West for its first win of the season, 27-20.

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