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COLUMN: Sports word search

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | October 26, 2022 12:00 AM

What’s the word I’m searching for here? Wow? Wacky? Unbelievable?

Oh, yeah, its “Montana”.

A word many folks associate with the most kick-butt state in the union, or with “Shining Mountains,” a phrase that lost its “zing” when Jack Nicholson stuck his face through an axe hole in the door, ala “Hereeee’s Johnny”.

I’m of the ilk that “Montana” is an ancient word contrived by native Americans and it refers to the “unbelievably wacky things” that happen in the world of sports.

Back then, of course, “sports” probably meant kicking around an elk skull stuffed with straw or finding food before the whole town dies.

Ahhh, the good old days.

No lads and lassies (or is that lasses?), there may not be one magical word that describes the goings on here in the world of Western Montana high school sports. It may well require a plethora of words to do it justice.

What?

Take for instance this past Friday night, a cool, damp early Fall evening in many parts of the woods around here. On one patch of grass-land, a much-heralded meeting of undefeated titans of pigskin prowess collided in what was expected to be the “Big Bang” of local high school football.

Instead, it was the Big Thud.

My well-traveled eyes could not process what was being fed to my well traveled upon brain on that dark and rainy night in the town of St. Ignatius.

It was there, under the “glow” of World War I era field lamps that the Mission Bulldogs pulled off puzzling stunner number one when they whupped fellow unbeaten Superior 58-0 in the battle for “regular” season Western 8-player football bragging rights.

I will never be convinced Mission is 58 points better than Superior, not even in stuffed elk-head kicking. But on this weird and wacky night….go figure.

And this sports stunner came on the heels of something equally as hard to comprehend that happened just a few miles up the road….Charlo lost a, gasp, a “regular” season, conference volleyball game.

Both of these happenings are enough to give Gramma the Vapors!

Veer to the West Saturday afternoon and you could have taken in “Senior Night” at one in the afternoon and watched the entire group of graduating football players be called to midfield, congratulated and gifted in less time that it takes Hot Springers to say “dang, there’s deer in the end zone again”.

Garth Parker was and is the entire male sports world at Hot Springs High. The only senior. Just re-play the video for basketball and track and you will have a very weird “Deja Vu” experience.

Want that really strong “feel good” moment in local sports?

You could have been at the Thompson Falls versus Anaconda 11-player football game in Blue Hawks land. It was there that the T Falls football team secured a much deserved first victory since being moved from 8-player to 11-player football one season after winning the 8-player state championship.

Talk about a way to make sure you do not have a repeat champion, eh?

None of this should come as a surprise I guess.

After all, this is the land where cherry pies are the featured dessert at the Huckleberry festival pie eating contest, where a growing sport can be found in blind-folded ATV racing and stuffed elk-head kicking with the antlers still attached...okay, I made that one up.

But there’s something going on out there in these far-flung counties. How else does one explain the suddenly increased number of five-set volleyball matches?

Any day now, folks will appear at local sporting events clad in medieval body armor...and those will just be the fans!

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