The Wallace High football team fell short of expectations a year ago, losing in the first round against Troy in the 1A Division I playoffs after going undefeated during the regular season.
Darrick Holmquist, then a junior, was on the sidelines for that game and many others last season.
The 6-foot-4 tight end/middle linebacker suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Thompson Falls just three games in a year ago.
That has only added to Holmquist’s saltiness.
“Mr. (coach Dave) Rounds told us that we need to step up and try to bring back the old Wallace team that other teams were scared to come play,” Holmquist said. “They didn’t want to come play because of the hard hitting – win or lose, they didn’t want to come play us for that reason.
“So I’ve kind of taken it in my own hands to help try and get that back.”
Rounds’ message has reached the Miners, who knocked off then top-ranked Kootenai in a non-leaguer last Friday.
“We’ve decided we’re going to go all-out on every play until we hear a whistle,” said Holmquist, who delivered a hit that knocked Kootenai quarterback Kolten Willms out of last week’s game. “And I’m making sure on defense that whenever I make a hit, it hurts.
“We still need to bring up the intensity, though – it’s not quite where I’d like it to be yet.”
There has also been plenty of goal-setting in the Miners’ camp.
“The first thing is to make it past the first round of the playoffs – since we’ve been in 8-man, we haven’t made it past there,” Holmquist said. “The next one is to make a run at that state championship.
“Both the offensive and defensive line have got to step it up if we’re going to get there, and we’ve got to stop dropping passes – there were a few balls in that game against Kootenai that should have been caught.”
As for last season’s injury, he said not being out on the field was nothing short of pure torture.
“It makes me want it even more this year,” said Holmquist. “I had to sit there and watch it all happen last year.
“And this is my last season here, so it’s now or never.”