Steve Kracher returns to Bobcat Stadium

BOZEMAN — Steve Kracher’s emotions may be a little jumbled Saturday.

“Last year I was in my normal surroundings,” said Cal Poly’s equipment manager for the last decade who also starred at running back for the Bobcats from 1972-75. The Mustangs topped 35-27 in San Luis Obispo. “I didn’t know very many people on the (Bobcat) sideline. But (Friday), driving through town, seeing campus, seeing the stadium, it all came flooding back.”

Kracher was greeted at the stadium by long-time MSU administrator Dan Davies and the school’s legendary former Athletic Trainer Chuck Karnop. He shook hands for the man whose Montana State rushing record he broke, Don Hass, and after setting the visiting locker room in advance of the arrival of his team he looked around the place that he helped christen in 1973.

“It’s so different,” Kracher said of his former digs. “Really impressive.”

The old place was far different – but equally imprssive – on Sept. 8, 1973, when Kracher and his mates moved into then-Reno H. Sales Stadium for the first time. The Cats steamrolled Idaho State, and while junior Wayne Edwards starred for MSU, rushing for 127 yards, Kracher ripped off 43 yards as a sophomore.

“It was really nice,” Kracher said of the team’s impressions of Reno H. Sales Stadium after playing the previous season at Bozeman High’s Van Winkle Stadium. “The fans were so close. They were loud, you could really feel them, you could hear them…”

Kracher will be introduced at halftime of Montana State’s Homecoming game Saturday as part of a group that stand as Montana State’s four all-time leading rushers. He remains third in school history with 2,979 career yards, and joins Ryan Johnson (1st, 3,646), Cody Kirk (2nd, 3,422), and Hass, the legendary Iron Tumbleweed, who held the record with 2,964 yards that Kracher broke in his final game at MSU.

Specifically, that game was at Northern Arizona, where Kracher rambled for 222 yards. That was the most ever gained by Kracher in one game, and remains the eighth-highest total in school history. He needed most of them to surpass Hass, as he suited up that day with 2,757 career yards. He broke the MSU career record midway through the third quarter. On a third-and-14, he took a pitch around right end and gained 13 yards. With the Bobcats in the process of blowing out NAU 31-17 – the Lumberjacks scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in garbage time – and Kracher’s day was finished shortly thereafter.

So was his legacy. He left as the school’s all-time rushing leader, a distinction he held until Ryan Johnson passed him. Cody Kirk eventually did, as well. But to Kracher’s mind, there remains only one all-time great Bobcat running back, and it’s a man who will be on the home sideline Saturday rather than across the field.

“Don Hass,” Kracher said with respect. “When I was playing, he was the gold standard. He was the guy we heard about all the time, the guy we looked to as the greatest.”

Montana State hosts Cal Poly at 1:35 pm Saturday. The game is televised statewide on Cowles Media of Montana Stations.

— MSU Sports Information

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