Aug. 22, 2012 – This week Butte High and Butte Central kick off their 2012 football campaign. The Bulldogs battle always tough Great Falls Russell while the Maroons poke helmets with former conference foe Belgrade. The opening game means the end of a long summer of hard work for both Butte clubs.
Yet, the opening game does not have the appeal of past years when the opening game featured a classic matchup, Butte High against Butte Central. The two schools started battling against each other in 1915. The contest became an opening game feature starting in 1965. Each year the town was a buzz as the Bulldogs and Maroons both showcased their best effort to kick off the new season. The game was a classic, hard-fought war especially when it was played at Naranche Stadium.
The first opening game in 1965 was a classic. Jim Parrish scored with only a few minutes left in the game to give Butte High a 6-0 win.
The next year, Bob Moodry had a big night leading the Maroons to a 12-0 shutout of the Bulldogs.
Mick Dennehy broke open the 1967 city title game with a long punt return as Butte High whipped Butte Central 21-6.
The defending state champion Bulldogs survived a scare by edging the Maroons 20-13 in 1968. Butte Central was at the Butte High five-yard line with less than two minutes to play when a face mask penalty against the maroon-and-white stopped their momentum and stopped a potential tying touchdown.
The Bulldogs got a late touchdown in the 1969 game to get by the Maroons 16-12. Butte Central led most of the game, but the Bulldogs got a safety when a hike from center sailed over Butte Central punter Ron Ueland’s head and went out-of-bounds. Butte High got two points and the ball back which led to their winning score.
Butte Central did not take a chance the next year. They belted Butte High 27-20, leading at one point of the contest by 21 points. Bob Burns rushed for over 200 yards in the game, scoring three times to lead the Butte Central victory.
Butte High paid the Maroons back the next year beating Butte Central 14-0. The Maroons came back with back-to-back wins over Butte High winning 12-0 in 1972 and 8-0 in 1973. It was the last time the Maroons beat the Bulldogs and the last time the game was played at Naranche Stadium.
The contest was played at Montana Tech for a couple of years, followed by a long run at the East Junior High Stadium. Butte High won a hard-fought contest in 1974 by a count of 6-0. They scored on a late touchdown by Pat Sullivan. The next year, Butte High won 35-0 in the first game not decided by 15 points or less in over a decade.
Once the game moved to East Junior High in 1976, the game remained as the opening contest of the year, but its appeal was not as rampant as the glory times at Naranche Stadium. There were some of the games that ended up close like in 1979, 1981, 1984 and 1988, but for the most part Butte High dominated. The contest came to an end after the 1991 game won by Butte High 62-20.
Since then the two schools have started the year out against numerous opponents. The opening game still has appeal, but it was nothing like those city title games when the opening game meant everything. It was Butte’s Super Bowl.