Montana Tech football coach Chuck Morrell didn’t have to work hard to sell Drew Schleeman on the program before former Butte High star signed with the Orediggers.
In fact, Schleeman probably could have told Morrell a thing or two about the school and the history of the program.
Schleeman has followed the Orediggers closely since he moved to town from Nebraska 17 years ago. That’s when Schleeman’s father, Doug, started working as an assistant coach for Bob Green’s Orediggers.
Doug Schleeman, who has coached at several different capacities for the Orediggers, is now the assistant head coach at Tech.
“No, it was definitely not a tough sell,” Schleeman says after practicing for the West Shrine team on Tech’s Bob Green Field. “I kind of had my mind set going into my senior year. I wanted to play ball.”
Schleeman will play guard and center for the West in Saturday’s 67th Montana East-West Shrine Game. He’s one of 12 future Orediggers who will play for the West in the All-Star football game at Naranche Stadium.
In all, 16 future Orediggers will play in the game.
“Coach Morrell was great, and I was pretty set on going to Montana Tech,” Schleeman says. “I was about 1 when we moved here. That’s when he moved here for the coaching job. I love the campus. I love the people.”
He says his decision to stay in town was an easy one.
“Look what he’s done in two years,” Schleeman says of Morrell. “I can’t be more excited about it. He’s a great guy, a great coach.”
Schleeman left his mark at Butte High on the offensive line. That’s where he lettered as a sophomore for the Bulldogs.
Schleeman started on the offensive line the past two seasons and was an all-conference guard. He earned first-team All-State honors as a long snapper as a senior.
He snapped the ball to holder Dallas Cook so Jake Dennehy could boot the biggest kick in school history, a 46-yard last-second field goal to give Butte High a 38-36 win over Bozeman in the Class AA state championship game at Naranche Stadium.
Along with Bulldog teammates Anthony “Chunk” Moritz, Nick Butorovich, Bryce Armstrong, Zach Bunney and Jon Allen, Schleeman will return to the scene of that kick — and ensuing celebration — for the Shrine Game.
“It will be awesome going out on Naranche Stadium one last time,” Schleeman says. “We want that win, especially us Butte kids.”
The Shrine Game was played at Bulldog Memorial Stadium the only other time it was in Butte in 2010. The game was scheduled to be at the East Middle School stadium again this year. However, construction issues there forced the game to be moved to the stadium in Uptown Butte.
“When they said it was at East, I thought it could be fun,” Schleeman says. “But I thought it would be awesome if they could move it to Naranche. Sure enough they did. All these other guys are going to get the experience that we got on that field.
“It’s the best stadium in the state. The best fans,” Schleeman says. “It’s unreal. I think it will be a really good Butte crowd. I think it will be a sellout. We didn’t lose last year in Naranche. We plan on doing it again.”
Schleeman says it took a while for it to register what his Bulldog team accomplished last year.
“Once you look back on it, what we did was legendary,” he says. “It was a privilege to be a part of.”
He pointed to the semifinal game in which Butte High erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter and won in overtime after Great Falls Russell came up an inch short — if that. The championship game was nothing short of miraculous.
“There was no quit in anybody, and we pulled one out,” Schleeman says.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Schleeman will likely line up on the offensive line for the last time at the Shrine Game. He’ll play outside linebacker for the Orediggers, and it doesn’t sound like Schleeman will miss the line.
“It’s not the best position, but every team needs one,” he says. “I busted my ass at it, that’s for sure.”
Schleeman, who played offense in last month’s Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl, didn’t play a ton of defense for the Bulldogs until the second half of his senior season.
“Coach Arntson gave me the opportunity,” Schleeman says, referring to Butte High defensive coordinator Bryan Arntson, “and I definitely took advantage.”
The prospect of playing defense at the next level makes Schleeman smile.
“I’m really excited about that,” he says. ” It makes a lot more sense. I keep my speed up. Maybe I’m not quite as fast as some of the other guys. But I’ll get there. I’ll work hard.”
Working hard for a win in the Shrine game is also something Schleeman says is easy, especially after the team received a talk for Shriner Hospital patients Tucker Thatcher and Sudah Davis of Butte.
“The little girl and then Tucker … what they said is touching,” Schleeman said. “It’s definitely worth playing.”
Schleeman plans to major in environmental engineering at Montana Tech.
He might also consider a minor in promoting the program and school he knows so well.
“You’ve got the nicest facility, the nicest weight room and the best education in the state,” Schleeman says. “You can’t beat it.”
Note: ButteSports.com will profile all eight Butte players on the West team roster before the 67th Montana East-West Shrine Game is played on Saturday, July 20. Butte players in the game are Northey Tretheway, Nick Butorovich, Bryce Armstrong, Anthony Moritz, Joe Joyce, Drew Schleeman, Zach Bunney and Jon Allen. 1 comment