By Bill Foley
It’s a pretty good bet that the doctors and nurses at St. James Healthcare know exactly why Montana Tech coaches fell in love with Cole Stewart.
The Butte High senior was rushed to the emergency room at the hospital with a dislocated shoulder during Butte High’s Oct. 1 loss to Helena Capital. As soon as his shoulder was put back in place, Stewart rushed right back to Naranche Stadium.
“I ran out of the ER,” Stewart said. “I thought I was going back in.”
Wanting to keep their jobs, Butte High’s coaches and trainers did not let Stewart go back into the game. But he was not happy about that decision as he watched the second half with his arm in a sling.
That determination will now be on display at Alumni Coliseum. Stewart announced on Twitter Monday that he has committed to play football for Montana Tech.
Thankful and excited to announce my commitment to Montana Tech to continue my academic and football career! Roll Diggs!⚒️ @CoachKyleSamson @CoachAndersonMT @MTFBCoachSchlee @MonTechFootball #CountOnMe #Family pic.twitter.com/YJ6CMMSGW8
— Cole Stewart (@ColeStewart023) November 9, 2021
Stewart said he plans to play defensive back for the Orediggers. It is a position he said he just likes more than playing on offense.
“You get to be the hammer and not the nail,” Stewart said.
Stewart will officially sign with Tech sometime after the Oredigger season comes to an end.
Butte High’s season ended with a 35-26 quarterfinal loss to Kalispell Glacier Friday night at Naranche Stadium. With the Bulldogs’ 6-4 season now officially in the books, Stewart decided to announce a decision he made a while back.
“I was keeping the focus all on the Dogs and not on me,” he said.
Despite missing two and a half games with the shoulder injury — which will be surgically repaired next Monday — Stewart finished second on the team with 70 total tackles. He also returned punts before his injury, and he picked off a pass.
Stewart returned to the team in time for Butte High’s last regular game and the playoff game. He led the Bulldogs with 11 total tackles Friday night. That included a tackle for a loss.
“Stewie is just tough. He plays hard. He’s a smart player,” Butte High coach Arie Grey said last week. “We missed not having them. He’s the field general out there. He’s a great teammate. He is a great leader. He does all the little things for us. It’s like having another coach out there on the field, and I think there’s a sense of comfort when he’s out there for the rest of them.”
While he admitted that his shoulder hurt while playing, Stewart played it down.
“It didn’t hurt as bad as you think it would, but it was there,” he said.
Stewart is a three-year letterman for the Butte High football team. He saw time late in the 2019 season when Butte High made a run to the state championship game.
Last season, Stewart played both ways for the Bulldogs. He caught 10 passes for 95 yards. He also registered 16 tackles.
This season, Stewart saw some plays on offense. But he played almost exclusively on the other side of the ball.
“I think it was where I fit best for the team because we’ve got (Cameron) Gurnsey and some great receivers,” Stewart said. “I wanted to prove my worth to the team there.”
Stewart played basketball for two years at Butte High. He did not go out for the team as a junior because he broke his hand playing football.
“I just got in the weight room and got set for senior of football,” Stewart explained.
He also lettered in track for the Bulldogs in the spring.
The 2021 Bulldogs did not bring home a championship, but Stewart agreed that the team was a special unit. It was a team that was fun to watch, and he said there is a reason for that.
“This year’s team was just so close,” he said. “We all just battled and we care so much about each other. Once you care for each other, good things happen.”
Stewart said he even enjoyed the time he could not play.
“(Ethan) Cunningham came in for me, and he did a good job there,” Stewart said. “A few kids stepped up and we got that big win over Glacier.”
Now, Stewart will get to experience that as an Oredigger, where he is following the footsteps of his cousins Kiley Caprara and Kale McCarthy.
“I’ve watched Kiley play, and it was sweet,” Stewart said. “Then I went up there for camp and I got an offer. I was stoked.”
Three days after the Bulldog season came to an end, Stewart decided to tell the world about it.
Stewart, the son of Eddy and Heidi Stewart, is undecided about his major at Montana Tech. He carries a 3.98 GPA at Butte High.