Sunday, November 22, 2009

Champions ...

I made another drive up to the Judith Basin yesterday morning, a striking and typically-gorgeous late-autumn Montana day. My destination was the town of Denton, where the undefeated Trojans were hosting the state six-man championship high school football game. Their opponents were the Roy-Winifred Outlaws, a newly-formed co-op team from two small schools an hour or so away. The Denton and Winifred teams have been rivals for decades, and so it promised to be a fun afternoon ... and it was.

Driving into Denton on the road that the Winifred fans would have used, I saw that Denton had tied streamers with their school's blue-and-white colors to the roadside reflector poles ... for miles. Out by the Judith, they'd hauled a bunch of huge circular hay bales to the roadside and spray-painted "Go Blue" onto them. Not to be outdone, Winifred and Roy had made an even bigger hay-bale sign nearby reading "Go Outlaws." When I arrived at the little field it was clear that most of the population of all three towns was there. Denton helped accommodate the overflow by providing temporary bleachers made of hay bales atop flatbed trailers.

I had a fine time, talking to a few of the locals, lunching on a cheeseburger, and taking lots of photos. Got to meet the author of the Small Town Football blog, as well. And I watched the game, which in typical six-man fashion was lots of fun.

But it wasn't a cliffhanger. Though the Denton folks had all expected to win, the team never really managed to get going, and the Outlaws scored the first points and never looked back. In the end the score was 53-20, nearly a blowout -- and the Outlaws were the new state champions. There was a little awards ceremony and then everyone streamed onto the field for hugs and high-fives and photographs.

It was a great moment, and the Outlaws deserve lots of accolades. They handily beat all three of the state's undefeated six-man teams in their playoff run -- a pretty amazing feat, indeed.


  1. THANK YOU for the report! I wondered all day Saturday how the game had gone. When I was in Lewistown on Thursday, the Argus had a big front page article and I seriously considered driving back with the kids that weekend.

    This is a great picture. What a beautiful day for a championship game!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! It was a really fun day for me, and a perfect way to relive some small-town life for an afternoon. And I'm glad you like the photo, too ... I doubt the Winifred kids will ever see it, but I hope they don't mind, anyway.

    And be prepared: I might just have to to Jordan for a football game next fall! :)

  3. Gotta love high school athletics in Montana. I think it is so neat how the whole town packs up and goes to support the kids, especially in the C towns where competition is tough and it takes a lot to even make it to state championship! I wonder how long it's been since Winifred or Roy has won a State Championship in anything?

  4. Yep, it's one of the greatest things about small towns, without a doubt. The whole community gets together to support almost everything that happens ... and especially the school stuff, since the school is the focus of so much of the town's life. That happens less and less in bigger towns, which is one of the reasons the small-town stuff is way more fun.

    And from what I heard, Winifred has a pretty good football tradition ... they were the state 6-man champs back in 1991. (They played on their own until this year.) I bet it's been a long time for poor little Roy, though. Only three of the boys on the combined team were from Roy, and on Saturday they looked like the three happiest kids on earth.

  5. Ya the last football championship was in 1991, coached by the same coach the same year this year's seniors were born. Pretty cool.
    Winifred won state basketball in 2008, also with the same coach of this year's football team.

  6. Yep, that's definitely cool, and Winifred must have a pretty remarkable coach! I remember hearing similar things about the guy who coached the Geraldine team ... he's been dong it for years, and has been great at it.

    The fact that coaches that talented would choose to make their careers at Class C schools says something pretty cool about them -- and about their schools, too.