It is time to start some better arguments

It is time to start some better arguments

As we enter the second month of the coronavirus quarantine, it is safe to say that we are all getting pretty sick of arguing politics on Facebook.

All sports are off the table, forcing us to the realm of politics as we divide our house further against itself. Somehow, we have even managed to turn a pandemic into a Red vs. Blue debate.

Recently, I posed a question to try to start a better kind of argument on Facebook.

If you are naming the all-time Butte High football team, who is your quarterback?

Is it Tommy Mellott or Dallas Cook? Or how about Bob O’Billovich or Jerry Olds? Or Barry Sullivan, Don Douglas, Todd Ericson or anybody named Paffhausen?

What about Matt Berg? He is the only Butte High quarterback for whom a Butte-Silver Bow chief executive (Matt Vincent) named a whole day after.

How about for Butte Central?

Do you go with Danny Peoples or Don Peoples Jr. or Thomas McGree? Zac Thomas or Jake Stagnoli? Or maybe Arthur “Tudo” Stagnoli or Steve Markovich. Or Paul Dennehy or Mark Schulte?

By now some people are screaming at me for the quarterbacks that I did not mention. Hopefully I will cover them later.

Or, maybe people are yelling at me because a football team is more than just a quarterback.

That is true. No matter how good a quarterback can throw the ball, he is nothing without a strong offensive line, good receivers and a defense.

Take Josh Paffhausen, for example. As a junior, Paffhausen was the quarterback of the 1991 Butte High team that went 12-0 and captured the Class AA state title.

The next year, Paffhausen was every bit as good as he was during the state championship season. The Bulldogs, though, were hit hard by graduation and stumbled to a 3-7 record in 1992.

Cook was also a junior when he led Butte High to the Class AA state title with an 11-2 record in 2012. His performance in the semifinals against Great Falls Russell was probably the best performance I have ever seen.

Down 16 in the fourth quarter, Cook ran for a pair of touchdowns and converted two 2-point conversions to tie the game and send it to overtime. He threw one pass to Tyler Earls for 2 points, and he ran the second on in.

Then, Cook ran for a touchdown in overtime. Jake Dennehy, who was a better kicker than legend has it, booted the extra point.

Of course, Butte High does not go onto the title game if Billy Robinson does not tackle Josh Horner of CMR about a half inch from the goal line — if it was even that far — to end Butte High’s 37-36 overtime victory on a cold Saturday afternoon at Naranche Stadium.

As good as Cook was in 2012, when he won the Class AA Offensive MVP award, he was even better in 2013, at least statistically speaking. He passed for more yards (4,098 to 3,895) and passed for more touchdowns (40 to 33) as a senior.

The Bulldogs, though, went 6-5, closing the season with a first-round playoff loss at Kalispell Glacier.

Cook and Mellott were the greatest quarterbacks at Butte High if you go strictly by statistics, but you cannot necessarily do that.

Statistical comparisons in football are impossible.

Cook threw the ball 66 times in one game at Billings Skyview in 2012. Many Butte High quarterbacks never threw the ball that many times in a season.

All of Butte High and Butte Central’s top-10 passing games came this century, highlighting how much the game has changed over time. Offenses today run more than twice as many plays as they did back when O’Billovich led the Bulldogs. Maybe more.

What would Paffhausen or O’Billovich do if they played in the same offense as Cook or Mellott? Nothing against coaches Jon McElroy or Forrest Wilson, but Arie Grey runs an offense that is a thousand times better when it comes to racking up statistics.

What kind of numbers would R.J. Olson put up if he got to run the same offense as Ritter, Stagnoli and Danny Peoples?

The Maroons opened up to a spread offense while Stagnoli was at the helm, and the BC record book was ripped to shreds. It was rewritten and ripped apart again.

When it comes to a win-loss record, it is hard to argue with Schulte.

His Maroons went 28-1 over three years. They won 28 straight games, including three Class A championship games from 1971 through 1973.

Of course, you cannot simply judge a quarterback by titles. Otherwise, Terry Bradshaw is four times better than Aaron Rodgers. Even Steelers fans know that is not true.

Well, at least they should know it is not the case.

Of course, there is a difference between the best and your favorite.

My all-time favorite Butte Central quarterback is Jim McMahon, whom I did not know existed until recently. Yes, in 1947, the Maroons’ starting quarterback was named Jim McMahon.

We can only assume he had the principal’s name written defiantly on his headband, and that he headbutted with his offensive linemen.

According to responses on Facebook, other BC quarterbacks worthy of the conversation (both favorite and best) include Hunter Rodriguez, Jim McCaughey, Dick Roche, Gary Monahan, Martin Ferriter, Tanner Kump, Bill Mulcahy and Brady Tippett.

As good as Josh Paffhausen was for Butte High, an argument could be made that his brothers Scott and Todd were every bit as good or better.

My money is still on Josh, since I know what it was like to try to tackle him.

Other Bulldog quarterbacks in the debate could be Bob Renz, Dick Wilson, John Dawson, Marty Judd, Greg Salo Rich Hawe and Pat Sullivan.

Without question I failed to mention some great players. Feel free to let me have it for my oversights.

Again, there is no wrong answer.

The same could be said for receivers, running backs, linemen and defensive players. But it sure is fun to try.

Since we have nothing else to do, we can also compare Maroons to Bulldogs. If you are facing third and eight, to whom are you throwing the ball to, Butte High’s Dalton Daum or BC’s Kale Guldseth.

Whom would you rather have at running back? BC’s Brian Morris or Butte High’s Jay LeProwse?

Who is the better center, Bulldog Pat Ryan or Maroon Doug Peoples?

We could debate the all-time starting five of the Butte High and Butte Central boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, too.

If the game is on the line, what Butte High players are on the court with Gary Kane or Lexie Nelson? What Maroons play with Jumpin’ Joe Kelly or Kellie Johnson?

Who was the better passer, Curtis Smith or Kloie Thatcher?

Could any of the Butte Miners get a hit off Jamie Paffhausen or Christine May?

Who is wrestling heavyweight on Butte High’s all-time wrestling team?

Any of these questions could start a debate that could go on hours, if not years.

Call me crazy, but I would much get fired up about that kind of stuff than argue about politics any day.

— Bill Foley, who will still argue politics, writes a column that usually appears Tuesdays on He plans to write more frequently during the coronavirus lockdown. Email him at Follow him at 3 comments

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  • Terry dunfee
    April 17, 2020, 1:19 pm

    Paul Dennehy was terrific and went on to lead the Bobcats

  • Dan McLaughlin
    April 17, 2020, 3:53 pm

    As an old Hudson Willse (sp?) fan from a LONG time ago, IMHO there is no debate as to the best sportswriter in Butte history, and that is Bill Foley!!! And the "sports" in that word could be deleted to read "writer" and it would still be good with me.

  • Bano91
    March 29, 2022, 3:51 pm

    I remember watching and/or playing with RJ Olson, Renzy Kelly, Zac Thomas, Hunter Rodriguez, Nick Sandford, and Jake Stagnoli. I still watch but those are the QBs who most definitively show the transition from option to the shotgun QBs that can dominate statistics. RJ was a tough leader, Renzy was fast, Zac couldn’t throw but was an option master, Hunter could do it all, Nick was efficient, Jake was an athlete. For my money, I’d go with Hunter barely over Danny Peoples because he showed Don the future while still running the option based offense and he should have carried them to an undefeated title. Unfortunately, a lot of these QBs went up against Sydney, Miles City, Hamilton, Dana Knox, Dillon, Billings Central when they were/are greater perennial powers… And Don gave up after Danny graduated…


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