Some familiar faces will be on the sideline for a few Bobcats veterans when Montana State takes on the Idaho Vandals. Idaho special teams coach Troy Purcell and outside linebackers coach Bobby Daly both coached at Bozeman High School while MSU seniors John D'Agostino and Grant Collins were there playing prep ball.
During Purcell's tenure at Bozeman, he won three state championship, including Bozeman's first state title since 1917. During Collins and D'Agostino's senior years Bozeman High went undefeated, winning the state championship 24-14 over Glacier High School.
When I questioned Collins and D'Agostino about Purcell and their high school years they had nothing but nice things to say. They both brought up winning the AA state title, adding that it was their favorite high school memory.
"Just playing in that moment was awesome," D'Agostino recalled.
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The two also referenced Coach Purcell's pregame speeches and spoke of what a great motivator he was. Collins remembered one of his favorites, calling it "man in the mirror," which he said was his go-to. He summed up the main point as, "If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the game and say you gave it all you got you didn’t work hard enough."
Throughout my conversations with them it was clear the amount of respect they continue to share for one another. Purcell conveyed, "I still love them, they are great guys. It's been fun to see how both have grown and excelled. They're both tough and dedicated."
The same feelings are felt by MSU's D'Agostino and Collins. D'Agostino expressed his appreciation for Purcell and his excitement for the game, saying "I think he is a great coach and he will have his guys fired up to play against us so that will be fun."
Although they spent four years together in the high school football world, all of them emphasized that Saturday's contest is all business. It won't be until after the game is over when the four will share sentiments. As Collins put it, "I'm going into this like any other game." Later he added,"But I'm excited to shake his [Purcell's] hand at the end of the game and catch up."
Overall, each side is excited to reunite after the competition, but until then it's going to be all business. Purcell joked, " I want them to do well, but not too well."