2013 was an incredible year for Montana teams and athletes, but no story was better than the Bozeman Hawk's 2013 title run.
A year ago, Butte and Bozeman squared off in the 2012 AA State Championship. With only seconds remaining, Butte kicked a last second field goal to win the state championship and send the Hawks back to Bozeman with broken hearts.
Bozeman began it's path to redemption on August 30th, defeating Billings Skyview on the road to kickoff their 2013 season with a 48-19 win.
Bozeman would win it's next six games before one of the teams leaders and veterans was sidelined, putting the Hawk's title hopes in question.
On October 18th, senior running-back Hunter Gappmayer suffered a cracked collarbone on his 4th touchdown run against Billings West. Bozeman would still go on to defeat Billings 57-21.
"Can't replace Gappy," Bozeman head coach Troy Purcell said the following week. "He's pretty unbelievable as a running-back and as a person and as a leader on this team."
Bozeman would win it's next game against Missoula Hellgate, pushing their record to 9-0 on the season. Bozeman would next square off against their chief rival Butte to end the regular season, looking to cap off the year with a 10-0 regular season record and redeem their championship loss.
"It's Butte," said Purcell two days before the rematch. "These kids have been waiting a whole year to have an opportunity to play them again."
After a 61-20 beatdown of the Bulldogs, Bozeman would defeat Missoula Sentinel and Skyview in the quarter and semi-finals to reach the 2013 championship game. Bozeman hosted an opponent they beat earlier in the season, Glacier, on a frozen night in Bozeman, looking to end the year with a perfect 13-0 record.
Bozeman would not be denied in their quest for a title as they would defeat Glacier 24-14.
The season would see many awards handed to members of the team, none however were bigger than senior defensive lineman Will Dissly's Gatorade Player of the Year Award.
"You know these seniors worked so hard for it," said Dissly following the Hawk's championship win. "We definitely put in the hours and we earned this one. Just to look at those seniors faces and to hug those guys and say, 'We're number one for the rest of our lives.' You can't explain that man."