By Bill Foley
Seth Gardner walked up the stairs to the Butte Central High School rotunda Friday morning and noticed a Carroll College shirt.
“That ugly purple,” the smiling Gardner joked as the student body started filling into the area.
It was Gardner’s first fray into the Montana Tech-Carroll College feud, a rivalry Butte Central Principal J.P. Williams emphasized was a friendly one.
Gardner was there for a signing ceremony as he inked on the dotted line to play football for the Orediggers. His Butte Central teammate Luke Jensen was there to sign to play for the Saints.
Jensen wore a purple tie, while Gardner, explaining that he is a “Butte boy,” wore a Montana Tech hoodie.
Williams brought the entire student body down to join in on the celebration. The crowd also included Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell and some of his assistants.
“The only reason we interrupt instruction is because this is important,” Williams said.
BC football coach Don Peoples said Gardner and Jensen will become the 19th and 20th Butte Central players to play college football on scholarship. Running back Clay Fisher became the 18th last week.
“I’m really proud of those three,” said Peoples, who just completed his 30th year as head coach of the Maroons. “When I get the chance to go watch former Maroons play college football it is the highlight of my weekend.”
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Gardner, the son of Greg and Lisa Gardner, will likely play offensive line for the Orediggers. Butte Sports reported his commitment Thursday night.
The 6-1, 185-pound Jensen, the son of Anaconda’s Rick and Peggy Jensen, will play receiver for the Saints. That follows a season when the former Anaconda Copperhead served as a virtual Swiss army knife for the Maroons in 2018.
He played receiver, running back, quarterback, linebacker, safety and corner back for the Maroons after playing two varsity seasons in Anaconda.
“I was pretty much everywhere on the field this year,” Jensen said.
Jensen decided to attend Carroll and play for new coach Troy Purcell this week.
“I went on a visit Tuesday, and I just really clicked with the coaches and coach Purcell,” Jensen said. “It just felt right. The gut feeling was to go to Carroll. I did really like Tech, but Carroll was the one for me.”
Jensen will major in biology with a pre-medicine emphasis. He plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. He is also keeping an eye on the football field, looking forward to the day he gets to play against his former Butte Central teammates.
“I can’t wait to play Tech with Seth and Clay,” Jensen said. “It will a good rivalry between us.”
Those attending the signing ceremony agreed.
“I guess I’ve got to be a Tech and a Carroll fan,” said BC senior Cade Holter.
After a group singing of the school fight song, “All Hail Central,” the BC students returned to class.