I'm finding that small-town football games are great excuses for long roadtrips ... and so yesterday I drove all the way out to Hysham to watch one of the semifinal games in the state 6-man tournament.
The Hysham Pirates were the host team ... they've been a powerhouse for years, and came into the game at 10-0, regarded by many as the best 6-man team in the state. This is a photo I took of their opponents, the Outlaws ... a co-op team of kids from the tiny high schools in Winifred and Roy. They came in second in their division but are a tough bunch, and managed to topple the previously-unbeaten Big Sandy Pioneers the week before. But the Outlaws had lost to Hysham back in September.
It was a beautiful but chilly day, and it seemed like a good chunk of small-town Montana was there. The little concession stand did a brisk business selling hot chocolate, and "lunches" that featured bowls of chili along with insanely-large homemade cinnamon rolls. The crowd was rowdy, and pirate flags waved proudly from the top of the tiny bleachers.
And the unthinkable happened, at least from Hysham's perspective. Winifred/Roy started out with two fast, unanswered touchdowns ... and they never looked back, cruising to an effortless 52-34 win. Next week the Outlaws play Denton for the state championship. The two teams are neighbors and long-time rivals, so it's likely to be a heck of an afternoon. I just might have to drive up.