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Brandon Arlian

Coach Brandon Arlian, a Carroll College graduate, watches his team run drills during practice at Shepherd High School in this Sept. 15, 2016, file photo.

Hannah Potes, for the Independent Record

HELENA -- Brandon Arlian needs football in his life.

The former defensive lineman and special teamer for the Carroll College football team completed his second year coaching duties at Shepherd High, his fourth overall in the program.

And he doesn’t intend that to change anytime soon.

“I’ll be in Shepherd for a while,” Arlian said over the phone recently. “It’s a great community. Tons of support.”

Teaching kindergarten during the day and coaching teenagers in the afternoons and evenings is a chance for Arlian to remain involved in the sport he cares so much about, he said.

“I miss the playing part but … but coaching is my football fix,” Arlian said. “Watching kids develop. Hopefully leaving the program in a better place.”

While the Big Timber native desires to build up a program, that doesn’t mean he’s looking to leave Shepherd for greener pastures. At least not in the short term.

Right now it’s the exact opposite. Arlian chuckled at the notion of chasing other football coaching jobs around the state or elsewhere.

He says he’s committed to Shepherd and his players are committed to him. Some are committing to play football at the next level.

This winter when one of his best players, Tanner Harrell, committed to Carroll College, Arlian’s alma mater, it was a sweet moment and a nod that he’s in the right place in Shepherd.

Harrell, like Arlian, will not be going to Carroll simply to play football. He will be getting an education that sets him up with a job for life after football – like Arlian did.

“Football only lasts for so long and then you have to have your job,” Arlian said. “I helped him a lot with the process.”

Arlian is a member of the most recent Carroll College football team to win a national championship -- in 2010 when Arlian was a freshman.

He graduated in 2014, and those football memories that Helena folks hold so fondly of the Purple and Gold are now teaching moments for the Shepherd Mustangs.

And even if he is still following the Saints and maintaining a relationship with Carroll, he’s not steering his kids to the program or tainting the recruiting process in any way.

Arlian invites Mike Van Diest and Carroll assistants to come and meet his players in Shepherd, but he’s not a recruiter himself.

If a player is interested in Carroll, he’ll help if he’s asked. Arlian knows that ultimately the decision comes down to the individual. He said he's more focused on building something in Shepherd.

He’s enjoying the process of fixing different areas of a team, whether it’s new offensive or defensive wrinkles or just re-emphasizing key concepts.

The Mustangs went 4-4 since Arlian’s been in charge. This year his team ended its season with a 26-18 loss to Whitehall-Harrison in the first round of the Class B playoffs. 

Even if they have more to accomplish in the postseason, watching the Mustangs shift from old mentalities is a rewarding feeling, Arlian said.

It’s one he wants to keep feeling for a while.