After losing an early lead and falling in the first round of the 8-man playoffs last season, Ennis head coach Chris Hess likes the direction of his program.

First-team all-state pick Talon Fortner showed up to practices in good shape. Other returners are expected to be standouts this season.

“Very excited about this group,” Hess said. “They are high energy and love to play football.”

The program lost many of its statistic leaders going into 2019. Brayden Oberg, who rushed for an Ennis-best 857 yards, Trevor Swanson, who passed for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns, Clay Coffman, who caught 33 passes for 604 yards and eight touchdowns and totaled 7.5 sacks on defense, and Rusty Lucas, who recorded a team-high 57 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss, are all gone.

But the Mustangs return talent as well. Fortner is expected to be the anchor of the offensive and defensive lines. Hess also said the Mustangs will rely on wide receiver/linebacker Zayne Sanborn and running back/defensive back Daniel Johnson as well. Sanborn totaled 23.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups last season while Johnson finished with 17.5 tackles and broke up seven passes.

“This group of seniors were freshman during our (2016) state championship run,” Hess said, “and are eager to leave their mark on the Mustang tradition.”

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.