SHEPHERD — There's no secret it takes a full team to breed success. That said, the Shepherd Mustangs may be riding one stallion in particular to advance in this year's Class B state football playoffs.
Aidan Lammers can run. In fact, he’ll likely close this high school season as Montana’s top high school running back in a variety of categories.
“Yeah, he knows where the holes are and seems to make the right reads,” said Mustangs' offensive and defensive lineman Braxton Fulton. "He’s really slick, he’s smooth, it’s hard to tackle him, to get him down. He just knows where he’s running.”
“He will run through anyone, stiff-arm anyone,” said fellow lineman Tyler Icard.
Those guys would know. They’re the ones blocking for Lammers while he’s busting loose like a wild horse.
“These big O-linemen paving the way, it’s awesome,” said Lammers, who also plays linebacker for Shepherd's defense.
Two and a half weeks ago in a double-digit win over Huntley Project, Lammers scored five touchdowns and rushed for 405 yards — that after Shepherd’s quarterback was injured on the game’s first offensive play.
Imagine those as fantasy football numbers. It was hard enough for offensive coordinator Russ Hale to imagine the reality of 405 yards.
“I was so nervous reporting that number and where it was on that (Montana) record list, I must have checked it 20 times,” Hale recalled to MTN Sports.
Jolly Righetti of Whitefish once ran for 445 yards in a game. Lammers’ 405 total marked him fourth-highest ever for a Montana single game, according to the Montana High School Association record book. Righetti averaged 221.1 rushing yards a game that season to set the state record.
That was 20 years ago. As of right now, Lammers is second on the list, unofficially less than a yard behind Righetti's state record.
“That’s kind of our identity," Lammers said. "Just ground and pound and fighting for every yard.”
Lammers and the line hope to keep grounding and pounding in Saturday’s home-field playoff opener against Missoula Loyola at 1 p.m.
According to Shepherd head coach Lucas Logan, Lammers has 1,760 rushing yards this season, shattering Shepherd’s school record by almost 500 yards set only a year ago by Connor Hash. Lammers also has 23 touchdowns this season.
Hale, meantime, makes sure his linemen are rewarded with some incentives.
“We make sure they get all the cool swag. They get hoodies, we have a pancake block contest at the end of the year. There’s a pancake breakfast that I, unfortunately, have to pay for. They’ve been pretty expensive the last couple years,” Hale admitted with a laugh.
It’s no secret that NFL quarterbacks and running backs often buy their linemen lavish gifts for record-setting seasons: for instance, Rolex watches and ATVs.
Lammers can’t go that far but said he has some thoughts.
“I’m taking these guys out to dinner for steak or something," he said with a big smile. "I love them. They’re moving guys, and I couldn’t ask for anyone else to play with.”
His O-linemen seem content without any rewards.
“Just having one of the lead rushers in the state is a good treat for us," said Icard. "It makes us look good and obviously we’re doing our job.”