It’s not time to talk about next year

Doug Granvold is a huge Oakland Raiders fan. Like many fans of the Silver and Black, he is not much of an optimist.

A few Augusts ago, Doug was at Maloney’s Bar in Butte when he looked up at the television to see his beloved Raiders losing a preseason game.

Two or three weeks before the regular season began, Doug shook his head and declared, “Well, there’s always next year.”

It was perhaps the earliest time on record that a team has been written off for the season. It was also probably the funniest line about a football season that I have ever heard.

Until now.

Montana Tech’s season opened in disastrous fashion with a 38-6 loss to Montana Western Saturday night in Dillon. Tech trailed 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime.

That leaves the Orediggers at 0-1 with just nine short games left in the 2014 season.

One Oredigger fan, who I’m sure wasn’t Doug, went on the daily newspaper’s website to post an anonymous comment to show his displeasure in the performance by the Montana Tech team.

“This game was not only embarrassing; but painful to watch,” a person known only as “mtech99” began. “If anything, it was worse than what it appeared. ‘Down for the count in the first quarter’ is a more accurate description. (Andrew) Loudenback is a horrible QB. I don’t see Tech winning any games this year. I think it’s time for the high and mighty (coach Chuck) Morrell to go. He obviously doesn’t know a whole lot about coaching football. Butte High could beat this team!”

Painful to watch for Oredigger fans? Of course it was. The team lost a lopsided game in a rivalry that is heated and sometimes nasty, to say the least.

And yes, the game was basically over in the first quarter. While the Orediggers regrouped and played better in the second half, never was there a feeling that the Orediggers would come back and win after the first 15 minutes.

The rest of the comments from “mtech99,” however, make our buddy Doug look like John Gruden and John Madden rolled into one.

After the game, Morrell, the 2012 regional coach of the year for the northwest, put the loss into perspective.

“One thing I’ve learned from coaching the game of football is it’s never as bad as you think and it’s never as good as you think,” Morrell said.

Sure, it might be a bit of a cliché, but it is one that certainly rings true. The only statistic that counts is that the Orediggers are 0-1. You don’t get extra marks in the loss column for embarrassment.

Tech’s starting quarterback, Andrew Loudenback, didn’t have the Oredigger debut he was hoping for. It was, however, his first game with his new team that just so happens to be playing in a brand-new offensive system.

Some things take time.

That Oredigger offense was also playing against one of the best defenses around. Mark my words, the Western Bulldogs will be one of the top defenses in the NAIA at the end of the season.

In case you haven’t noticed — and judging by your comment you haven’t — Western has been quietly putting together some great recruiting classes the last few years.

The Western roster is full of some of the best talent from Montana, including defensive studs Joe Coker of Helena Capital and Jesse McLoud of Manhattan. The 2014 Bulldogs will probably have several games that will be very hard for the opposing fans to watch.

You don’t see the Orediggers winning any games this year? You think Morrell has to go?

I assume you don’t remember the 2012 season at all then. The Orediggers lost their opening game at home — granted, it wasn’t a blowout — only to rebound and convincingly beat Carroll College the following week.

The Orediggers went on to win the Frontier Conference title and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. That was in Morrell’s second year as head coach.

So, Morrell must know something about coaching football. He might not be in Vince Lombardi’s class just yet, but he does have three NAIA national champion rings from his days as defensive coordinator at Sioux Falls.

They don’t just give those things away, you know.

Finally, the closing line from “mtech99” could be taken a couple of different ways.

I’d like to think the comment came from a cockeyed optimist who thinks the Butte High Bulldogs are going to run roughshod through the Class AA for their second state title in three years.

That would be kind of nice to see.

Unfortunately, though, the rest of the statement makes me believe it was pessimistic about the Orediggers and mildly insulting to the Bulldogs — from Butte High and Montana Western.

For the record, the Montana Tech roster includes former Butte High Bulldogs Zach Bunney, Clay Brozovich, Drew Schleeman, Mack Ferko, Tyler Earles and Matt Berg.

Bunney, Schleeman and Earles were members of the 2012 state championship team, and all six fall under the category as “Bulldog greats.”

With no disrespect to the current Butte High Bulldogs, I would put my money — all of my money — on the Orediggers in that contest.

The Butte High Bulldogs against the Oakland Raiders, however, is a completely different story.

I know Doug’s money would be on Butte High.

—Bill Foley, who (wink, wink) doesn’t promote betting on high school or college sports, writes a column that appears on on Tuesdays. Email him at Follow him at 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Fraser MacDonald
    August 27, 2014, 4:52 pm


    Would you do a in-depth study of the MCAC and pass it on to your many viewers!



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