Three Forks vs. Huntley Project

Huntley Project girls basketball coach Jay Santy talks to the team during the opening round against Three Forks at the Southern B Divisional tournament at Metra this past past February. Santy stepped down as girls basketball coach in the offseason and pending school board approval will be named the new football coach at Project on Monday. 

BILLINGS — Pending school board approval on Monday, Jay Santy will be returning to coach the Huntley Project football team.

The news came via Twitter on Thursday that the Huntley Project school district was “in the process” of hiring Santy, and Huntley Project Public Schools superintendent Mark Wandle confirmed it later Thursday afternoon.

“We went through the process and Jay is going to be recommended for our position of head football coach Monday evening at our special board meeting,” Wandle told

The position opened suddenly when Guy Croy resigned as head football coach at Project on July 15. Croy had coached the Red Devils for seven years. Croy said he resigned due to philosophical differences with the Huntley Project administration. Wandle and Project activities director Tim Bastian both said philosophical differences with the administration was the reason Croy gave for his resignation.

Santy led Project to back-to-back state Class B football championships in 2008 and 2009 before retiring after the 2011 season. Project won 24 straight games during that stretch.

Santy coached the Red Devils girls basketball team the past two seasons. Santy became the girls basketball coach after Kurt Kautz, who was the girls basketball coach at the time, died in a car wreck on Oct. 14, 2017. Santy had been an assistant under Kautz.

Wandle said Santy had previously stepped down as girls basketball coach and Connor Novakovich will be the new girls basketball coach at Project this year. Novakovich was on Santy’s staff last year. The assistant coaches will be Mandy Morales and Adam Johnson.

Santy also served as athletic director at Project before stepping down at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

Santy was Project’s football coach for 10 seasons and his teams were 82-18 during that span. During his last season, the Red Devils were a playoff team for the eighth straight season and finished 6-3.

Before Santy became the head football coach at Project, he was an assistant under three different coaches at the school. He was an assistant under Jim Stanton when Project won the state title in 1998.

A longtime teacher at Project, Santy retired from teaching two years ago. He has been a mainstay coach at the school. During his time at Project, Santy served as the Red Devils head boys basketball coach for seven years. Santy also was an assistant boys basketball and assistant track coach at Project.

Wandle said the Huntley Project high school team football camp will be July 30-31. Originally, the team camp was set for July 22-25, but it was postponed with Croy’s resignation.

“Jay will be there and hopefully some of his assistants and some other individuals from the community to help him out until his staff is filled out,” Wandle said.

The first day of football practice is Aug. 16. With the season rapidly approaching, Wandle is glad to have a coach in place.

“The situation we were in wasn’t great for anybody,” Wandle said. “Guy did a really nice job and a great job for us. To get somebody of Jay’s caliber to step back in is really a benefit to our kids and community.

“Me personally, knowing where we were a week and a half ago, and being where we are now, I feel blessed and fortunate to have Jay back on staff.”

Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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