BUTTE — After breaking his leg, wide receiver Dylan Snyder had to watch his team from the sidelines as a sophomore. Two years later, he has fully recovered and has been crucial for the playoff-bound Bulldogs.
Butte (6-3) earned a two-seed in the playoffs and will face the winner of Missoula Big Sky and Great Falls on November 5. The Bulldogs have already recorded wins against both teams this season.
Snyder, who has been one of the Bulldogs' most reliable receivers this season, believes his team has a chance to win a championship thanks to the unique togetherness and effort present within the team.
"It all started last year after we lost to Capital in the first round of the playoffs," Snyder said. "We all kind of came together as a coming-senior class after that. We said we have to get the team together, get in the weight room and build a team bond."
"That's what makes your team win and that's what we did this year," Snyder continued. "We created a bond I've never really had with another team. We care for each other wherever we go."
Snyder and the Bulldogs found success this season through their hard work and togetherness, but they also persevered through challenges as well. The Bulldogs had multiple games where they trailed late, but were able to come back and create game-finishing plays.
One example of this came on October 8, where the Bulldogs trailed Kalispell Glacier for most of the game. But a late score and a forced safety secured a 20-17 victory for the Bulldogs, which led coach Arie Grey to praise his team's effort.
"They kept believing in each other more as the game went on," Grey said. "They looked to their right and to their left and believed in each other. The whole group of young men are fighting for each other, caring about each other."
"And really, that's what this is about, playing together with your buddies," Grey continued. "These are moments they don't get back. You're only promised a couple games a year so they're making the most of it and having fun."
While the team-wide effort has been a unique and special experience for the Bulldogs, the desire to be great on the football field has been with Snyder far before this season.
Snyder, a Butte native, grew up as a Montana Griz fan with his parents, brother and sister. Going to Griz games soon led to his interest in playing football in his neighborhood and a lifelong love for the game.
"I remember going to Griz games and playing football in our yard. That's what kind of started my love for the game," Snyder said. "I played quarterback in little guy football but I've been a receiver since middle school. I've loved doing what it takes to be a receiver ever since then."
After a successful freshman football season, Snyder travelled to Dillon as a sophomore to participate in a basketball tournament. It was in Dillon that he experienced an injury that would change the next year of his life.
On St. Patrick's Day in 2019, Snyder broke his leg in the tournament and was not able to play football his sophomore year. Rehabbing his injury took more than a year, as he also suffered nerve damage from the injury.
"It took me a while to get over it. It took me out of my sophomore year but I returned for my junior year," Snyder said. "During my junior year, I worked on my body a lot to get back to where I was. It took about a year to recover."
"Sitting on the sidelines was so hard. I loved the game so much and it hurt me not to play on the field with my friends," Snyder said. "So I kept fighting and fighting through therapy to get back out there again. I just love playing."
Not only has Snyder fully recovered from injury to fulfill his role at receiver, but he played defensive end sparingly during his junior year. This year, he has played receiver and defensive end consistently.
A good student as well, Snyder plans to pursue a business degree after high school. He has received offers to play collegiate football but has not made a decision on where yet, as his current on-field focus is winning a state championship with the Bulldogs this year.
"We've been working hard and we have a first round bye to heal up," Snyder said. "We're going to give it all we got in our first game and go from there. Hopefully we can go all the way."
"The thing I've noticed about this year's team is that the bond goes beyond football," Snyder continued. "We go out for team dinners and see each other in by the lockers, it's just been a really fun time."