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.