By Bill Foley
Chuck Forgey has never played or coached in the Bob Cleverley Class C 8-Man All-Star football game, but he’s quite familiar with the ground it will be played on.
“I painted the field for it a couple of years,” Forgey said Monday as the coaches checked in for Saturday’s 35th playing of “The Clev” on Saturday.
Back before the field at Alumni Coliseum was artificial turf, Forgey made a name for himself and for the Montana Tech Orediggers.
In 1992 and 1993, Forgey was an All-Frontier offensive lineman for the Orediggers. As a senior in 1994 he was a first-team All-American. The former right guard also received the prestigious Ed Simonich Award following his senior season.
That award is given to the student-athlete who represents what it means to be an Oredigger both on and off the field.
For the next four years, Forgey served as an assistant to head coach Bob Green. He was part of the 1996 team that played for the NAIA national championship.
Now, Forgey is back in his old stomping grounds as part of the coaching staff for the Blue Team for Saturday’s All-Star game. He will assist head coach Mike Cutler of the state champion Flint Creek Titans.
It is a position Forgey, who played his high school ball in Spokane, Washington, never thought would bring him back to town.
“Not in a million years,” he said.
Forgey, who entered the Montana Tech Hall of Fame in 2008, started coaching football in Arlee because the Warriors needed him.
Along with his wife Wendy, also a Tech graduate, Forgey owns and operates Glacier Lake Sand and Gravel in Polson. The Forgeys live in Arlee, and their two children are in the school system.
Not many were willing to step up and help the football program, so Forgey started to lend a hand.
“It was just out of necessity,” he said of coaching. “I coached junior high a couple of years, then I got the head job.”
Forgey said he is enjoying coaching, even if it was something he never saw himself doing when he left Montana Tech two decades ago.
“Oh, I love it,” he said. “There’s kind of a lack of people to do it in our district. That’s why I started in the junior high. I was helping with the high school a little bit when I could, running the weight room and things like that.
“It’s not a money maker, that’s for sure,” Forgey said of coaching. “You’ve got too like to do it, and I do.”
Whether he wanted it or not, Forgey was promoted to head coach of the high school before last season, and his Warriors found themselves in the Class C 8-man playoffs.
Arlee fell to Ennis in the first round, closing the season at 7-3. The playoff appearance made Forgey eligible to coach in “The Clev.”
“We had a good season,” Forgey said. “We kind of ended the year with a bunch of unfortunate injuries. When we got into the playoffs, we had quite a few kids out.”
The roster for the Blue Team lists Forgey as an offensive assistant, but he scoffs at that notion. He said he will be the special teams coordinator instead.
“I’m offensive, but I’m not offensive,” Forgey joked.
Since Forgey was an offensive lineman, it’s no surprise that the Warriors’ bread and butter was in the ground game.
“We run the ball a lot,” he said. “We like to run the ball. That’s where we made hay when we made our hay last year.”
Always popular with his teammates, Forgey has made his way back to Butte for Oredigger games over the years.
“Not as many last year,” he said. “I had my nose in the film last year.”
In addition to coaching and playing, Forgey was a popular bartender at the Vu Villa, and he worked for Community, Counseling, and Correctional Services, Inc. before leaving town.
So, being in the Mining City this week will be special in more ways than one for Forgey.
“It’s fun. I’ve been looking forward to it,” Forgey said. “I have a good time when I come back to this town and see folks.”
And this time, Forgey won’t have to paint the field.
“The field painter doesn’t do much around here anymore,” he said.