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We already have the key to a state football title

We already have the key to a state football title

Read the next sentence in the voice of the narrator for 30 for 30 documentaries.

What if I told you that Butte could drastically increase its chances of winning a state football championship every year?

Would that interest you?

Well, it should, and we have the means to give our football players that incredible boost.

Multiple sources from both sides have told me that Butte Central and Anaconda are in serious talks about a co-op for the schools to join forces to form one football team.

With numbers down at both schools — thanks, in part, to awareness about the dangers of concussions in football — it is a move that could be very beneficial for both school.

The Coppermaroons or the Maroonheads would definitely have the makings for a deep Class A playoff run every season.

You would have to think that combination would have brought at least one or two titles over the last decade or so.

We already saw part of that recipe click this past season when Anaconda’s Luke Jensen decided to go to Butte Central and play for the Maroons during his senior season.

Jensen was a big part of BC season, and it makes you wonder what could have happened if he would have brought some Copperhead teammates with him.

The Maroons and Copperheads have so few football players these days, and one or two injuries can easily derail a season.

Co-ops are a time-tested path to success, and smaller schools in Montana have done if for a long time.

A few years ago, longtime archrivals Philipsburg and Drummond combined forces to form the Flint Creek Titans, and the Titans won the last two Class C 8-man state titles.

While that rivalry might not quite have the history of fights, broken windows and knocked-over buses as the Butte-Anaconda feud, there certainly was no love lost between the Prospectors and Trojans before the merger.

The No. 1 goal for each team each season was to beat the other.

So, it is hard to argue against a BC-Anaconda union, as long as you are not the one paying for the gas to drive the 26 miles back and forth to practice each day.

A lot of logistics must be worked out before this marriage comes to fruition. For instance, where would the team play its games? Where would it practice?

What would we call the team?

Each of those questions has the makings to quickly end any talks of bringing those two sides together.

If we are talking about joining forces of the old rivals, however, I have a better idea.

Instead of making the Butte Central players driving to Anaconda to practice, how about we have them walk four blocks west, turn south and walk down two more blocks to Naranche Stadium.

Yes, what I’m about to type is going to anger some of the old guard and have others clutching their chest like Fred Sanford.

“This is the big one, Elizabeth.”

For football, the Butte Central Maroons should co-op with … the Butte High Bulldogs.

There, I put it out there. I do not believe that merger will ever happen because we have about 15-30 people in town who dislike the other side enough to make sure it will not.

Remember the 2006 ugly spat over playing a basketball game in Central’s new arena?

Um, yeah, the Palestinians and the Israelis will have a co-op football team before Butte High and Butte Central do.

Still, it is hard to deny it would be the right move if BC feels it must co-op with another school.

Of course, the first choice, without question, is to keep the Maroons the Maroons, the Copperheads the Copperheads and the Bulldogs the Bulldogs.

Flint Creek had 28 players listed on its roster for the state title game. The Titans’ opponent, Great Falls Central, had 25.

That is for an 8-man game.

Butte Central’s 2018 roster listed 28 players, and a lot of them are not varsity players.

I went to a BC varsity practice in 2017 and saw the team practice with exactly 11 players. The rest were injured or playing in a subvarsity game.

Really, it is amazing that BC still competes at a high level year after year.

Only 15 of the BC players on the roster were juniors or seniors this season, and adding those to Butte High’s varsity roster would not make the Bulldogs the biggest team (numbers wise) in the Class AA.

But you’ve got to believe that the players would definitely help.

Those players would add some serious depth to the team, and we all know that football is a war of attrition. In football, the “next man up” mantra is king.

The BC players could also bring some quality.

You think Butte High couldn’t have used a player like Clay Fisher this past season? Or Cade Holter? Or Thomas McGree? Or the Simkins twins?

Over the last few years, you don’t think players like Marcus Ferriter, Kyle Schulte, Ryan Moodry, Nate McGree or Danny Peoples couldn’t have helped the Bulldogs?

Butte High closed this past season with three straight wins. Then the Bulldogs played eventual state champion Billings West pretty tough in Billings.

Adding a couple of college-caliber players from the other school six blocks away might have been the difference between a close call and a state title run.

Sure, there are logistic problems with such a proposal that the Class AA might not even allow.

The coaching staffs probably would strenuously object to merger. Butte High has a great head coach and two outstanding coordinators. So does Butte Central, and neither coach would want to give up any power.

That problem, though, would work itself out in the first part of the first season together. It sure worked itself out for the Titans when great coaches Jim Oberweiser and Mike Cutler joined forces.

The name shouldn’t be a debate. They’d be the Bulldogs because we’d put it to a player vote. They’d play in Naranche Stadium, and they’d wear purple.

That has to be a more appealing option to even the most diehard Maroons than wearing Anaconda colors. Doesn’t it?

Parents of the Butte Central players already pay the taxes to support Butte High School. They could just pay the activities fee and join the Bulldogs.

Most of the players wouldn’t mind. Those who do would eventually go along with it because it would be a team playing for Butte.

And they’d be playing together in the best high school football stadium in the state.

Such a team wouldn’t be guaranteed a state title or even a playoff berth. But certainly, the Butte boys would be playing from a stacked deck.

If you think the certain Butte people hate the idea, just think about the folks in Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Billings, Belgrade and Bozeman.

They’d really hate the move. They know the “Boys from Butte” loading up with more boys from Butte would be bad news for the rest of the state.

Then, when the Butte High-Butte Central co-op brings home its first state title, we just might have the makings for a real 30 for 30.

— Bill Foley, a hopeless romantic, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. Check out his NFL picks on Thursdays.



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