BHS Football Jake D'Agostino

Bozeman High quarterback Jake D'Agostino poses for a photo after practice on Tuesday at Van Winkle Stadium.

Jake D’Agostino had never started at quarterback in a varsity game. He didn’t know what to expect. He felt nervous.

After a tight preseason quarterback competition, D’Agostino readied for a rematch of last year’s state semifinal. With several Kalispell Flathead contributors since graduated and a new head coach leading the Braves, uncertainty continued to cloud over D’Agostino.

But in his first game quarterbacking for Bozeman (1-0) last week, he showed what he’s capable of.

“What stands out to me about Jake is just I thought he was very calm under pressure,” Hawks head coach Levi Wesche said, “because he was pressured a lot especially against Flathead and made a lot of plays with his legs and made enough with his arm that we were able to score a few points here and there.”

D’Agostino finished 8-of-14 passing for 118 yards and a touchdown while also running for 172 yards and a score on 14 carries. The well-rounded showing led to a road win to kick off the season.

The next challenge for the senior signal caller comes against Missoula Big Sky at 7 p.m. Friday at Van Winkle Stadium. Entering Week 2, D’Agostino has a better idea of what’s coming and hopes to build off his season-opening performance.

“It helps to have a little confidence under the belt knowing what to expect,” D’Agostino said.

After last week’s game at Flathead, Wesche said he wasn’t sure D’Agostino ever had the chance to settle in because the Braves constantly pressured him. D’Agostino said he grew more comfortable about halfway through the contest.

Their disagreement was a moot point.

D’Agostino helped lead the Hawks to 28 second-half points and ultimately the Week 1 victory. With a game of experience to reflect on, he formed an idea of what to work on next.

“I need to improve on making my reads a little better and just throwing the ball a little more accurately,” D’Agostino said. “I was a little inaccurate last week. Need to clean a couple things up.”

During the preseason, D’Agostino beat out fellow senior Hudson Willett for the starting quarterback position. Wesche evaluated “every ounce of film” since the start of summer practices in order to make his decision.

In the opener, Willett started at cornerback and contributed at receiver with three catches for 35 yards.

“Hudson played extremely well too, and I think it’s really worth pointing out that Hudson was and is a very capable quarterback,” Wesche said. “Jake just had a better overall grade by the end.”

Both quarterbacks spent last year backing up former starter Kris Brown, who since graduated and is a freshman playing for Montana. Brown set the school record for completion percentage in a season at 67.9% and managed an offense that averaged more than 44 points per game.

D’Agostino observed how well Brown responded after negative plays, not letting one poor play snowball into more and immediately moving on to the next situation. Wesche hopes his quarterbacks learned how Brown rose to the occasion in crucial moments regardless of his play the rest of the game.

That tendency helped key Bozeman to an undefeated regular season a year ago, and if it’s continued, will likely play a factor in whether the Hawks can replicate their success.

“He took care of the football, and I think that’s the most important thing you can ask of a quarterback,” Wesche said of D’Agostino’s season-opening performance. “He didn’t turn the ball over one time. No fumbles. No interceptions. And then when we had to have big plays, he made big plays for us.”

Scrambling when plays break down is one of D’Agostino’s strengths, and now that opponents are aware of that, his style could keep evolving.

With defenses preparing for the run, D’Agostino’s emphasis on improving his accuracy could take even greater importance.

“I expect Jake to continue to mature as a quarterback moving forward,” Wesche said, “and I think that there’s a lot of his game that remains yet unfinished.”

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

Paul Schwedelson is a sports writer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.