Sunday, September 19, 2010

Remembering The Titans... and Refiners

Zig and Zag
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
This past Sunday morning’s edition of the Billings Gazette had the typical listings of high school football scores. It’s usually pretty thorough when it comes to getting all the scores, but sitting in the Laurel City Brew coffee shop that morning, I noticed that there was no mention of the game I attended on Saturday afternoon in Moore.

A grin came across my face as I said to myself, “Another mission in obscurity completed.”

Although nothing was printed about the game, it was a doozy as the Tri-City Titans and the Sunburst Refiners rumbled in a knock-down, drag-out, eight-man shoot-out that resulted in over 100 total points on the scoreboard—with the lead changing hands several times before the final gun sounded. In a reference to the high-scoring game, one of the four officials on the field turned to me and said, “I didn’t know we were working a six-man game.”

Great Falls Refs
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
On paper, the game probably didn’t have that much appeal to someone who might be looking for a battle of undefeated teams. In this case, both teams were winless coming into the contest and even though there was a victor and a runner-up, both teams had something in common to cheer about—each scored a lot of points.

Billings Gazette take note: Tri-City Titans 59, Sunburst Refiners 44.

On a related note...

The Tri-City Titans represent the high schools located in Hobson, Moore and Judith Gap—a three-school co-op. I asked about how the colours of green, black and white along with the mascot name were selected. One source told me the following: about three years ago each school submitted two mascot names for the co-op. With six names coming forward, the three schools voted and “Titans” tallied the most votes. The colours are neutral to all three schools. The Hobson Tigers are orange and black, the Moore Bulldogs are Columbia blue and gold and the Judith Gap Tigers are royal blue and gold. The Titans rotate their home games between Friday nights in Hobson and Saturday afternoons in Moore. During basketball season, Hobson students put the orange and black on, making up their own team while Judith Gap and Moore form another co-op.

Shout-out: Congratulations to the Hays-Lodgepole Thunderbirds for already notching their first victory of the year (48-30) over the Froid-Medicine Lake-Grenora Red Hawks.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Autumn Habits, Ghost Teams and The Olive Garden

Highwood, Montana
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Every year small town high school football comes and goes. And after it’s over—like Brett Favre—I’ve told myself and others that next year I’ll likely stay behind and only attend a game or two in the 100-mile radius of home. However, unlike Favre, there’s no million-dollar contract enticing me to travel the same distances as any previous year—not even the promise of gas money.

Perhaps my want or need to stay home has much to do with the fact that I’ve been almost everywhere in the two states of Montana and Wyoming when it comes to this genre of football.

So last week, I serendipitously obtained all the schedules for Montana Class C (six and eight-man) from the website of KPAX in Missoula. (BTW: kudos to KPAX for pulling all of these schedules together in such a thorough fashion.) It didn’t take long for me to spot a game here and there that I would like to attend. The next thing I know, there’s at least one game every week that I am eyeing up through mid-October. And not long after that, the playoffs begin.

Did I mention there are 27 teams playing six-man football in Montana this year—and another 36 teams signed up for eight-man play?

Obviously I’m hooked... again. And I haven’t even seen the schedules for Wyoming or a select few locations in Idaho that are realistically out of reach.

The truth is, I haven’t attended a game everywhere in these two states, but I have had time to survey almost every small town high school football setting (i.e., driving by any given gridiron during the off-season or on my way to another game somewhere else).

I suppose this means my work is not finished—not as long as teams change from one class to another or other schools introduce new teams in the stream of play.

Which makes me reminisce about a few schools/teams that have not fielded teams in years. Whatever became of the teams and players from Willow Creek, Belfry, Brockton, Box Elder? Are they teamed up with other schools in much the same way that resulted in Brady joining Power and Dutton or how Rapelje and Ryegate split to join Reed Point and Harlowton respectively?

Well, in case there’s anyone out there reading this that might wonder what I have in mind for this season, here’s my goals...

Power-Dutton-Brady: the Titans will also play a Saturday afternoon game in Dutton. Located off the Interstate 15 north of Great Falls, there’ll be no time for yard work on that weekend.

Fromberg-Roberts: this is about as close to home as I can get. About an hour drive. Though I’ve attended plenty of Fromberg and Roberts games in the past, these settings will serve as a reprieve from the typical hours of driving while still fulfilling my need to see a game.

Tri-Cities: That would be Hobson, Moore and Judith Gap—“Tri-Towns” might be a better name. One of their home games is scheduled for the gridiron in Moore on a Saturday afternoon instead of the usual dim-lit games in Hobson on Friday nights.

Great Falls Central Catholic: This is may be one of the few places in either state where you can witness a small-town football game in a good-size city like Great Falls. It may seem odd to the readers out there, but I’ve never been able to go to the Olive Garden immediately following a Class C football game. On a related note, I see Billings Christian is fielding a six-man team this year as well—providing another venue for small town football within a metropolitan setting.

Lastly St. Regis: Another lost weekend of driving for one six-man football game. This will be the Tigers first year of six-man football.