‘It’s surreal’

FHS head coach talks journey to and preparation for championship game
Will Briggs
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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Fergus Head Coach Derek Lear gives Kudos to Jordan Jensen during a game this past season.
Photo by Matthew Strissel

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Derek Lear

Derek Lear is only in his second season as the head coach of the Fergus High School football team, but it’s safe to say his tenure is off to an extremely strong start. 

Last year, his team placed second in the Eastern A division in last year’s regular season and made the state semifinal game and this year, the Golden Eagles are undefeated and on their way to the state championship game against Billings Central.

“It’s surreal,” Lear said of those two years. “Obviously you have a vision for the program when you start off, but I didn’t think it would be this quick. Last year, I knew we had the right coaches and some special kids and families, but you never quite know how long it will take for things to gel and even though you expect to play for the title every year, it doesn’t always happen that way.”

While the shine of their semifinal victory has yet to fade, Lear said the team is focused on getting themselves ready for one last big game of the season.

“It’s a pretty special week, and it’s weird to think we just had our last coaches’ meeting of the year,” Lear said. “We’re trying to get prepared. We worked so hard in the last week and we’ll do that again. They’re a very, very good team, but our boys will be ready.”

Beyond getting ready for playoff games, Fergus’ previous contest against Billings Central has given the team a pretty good guide for how to prepare for Saturday.

“The week before we played them the first time, we knew it was a big game and we understand this is a big game,” he said. “They know who they are and we know who we are, we just need to not get caught up in the moment, be ourselves, and trust the preparation we’ve done.“

After a hard-fought, 17-7 victory over the Rams in October, Lear is expecting another tough game.

“Both teams will be ready, it’ll come down to who makes the most plays and who is more disciplined,” he said.

As with the last game between the two teams, the Golden Eagles will have at least one edge: playing on their home turf. That, in combination with practice and preparation, can instill that extra bit of confidence for the occasion.

“We’re not nervous, just excited,” Lear said. “We’re excited to get to host the championship game and play in front of our home crowd.”