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MCA fall 2014 'Coaches of the Year'

The following is a complete list of fall 2014 Coach of the Year recipients for Montana high school athletics, as voted on by fellow Montana Coaches Association members.

All 21 honorees won their respective state titles this fall.

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MonDak comes 800 miles for win at Hot Springs

MonDak comes 800 miles for win at Hot Springs

The tiny towns of Westby and Grenora straddle the Montana-North Dakota border way up near where the United State meets Canada. Hot Springs in western Montana may as well be in a different country.

The MonDak Thunder 6-man football team, which comprises players from both towns, traveled almost 800 miles for its Class C quarterfinal playoff game at Hot Springs on Saturday on a journey split up into three days.

The drive home is always a little easier when there’s a win in tow.

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Big Sky's Johnson, Hellgate's Softich reunite as coaches on football field

The last time that Matt Softich and Matt Johnson shared a football field, by the latter’s recollection at least, was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years ago.

And the field wasn’t in Missoula where both men coach high school football now — Johnson at Big Sky, Softich at Hellgate. That last time was in Anaconda when Johnson was quarterbacking the Copperheads as a prep player and Softich was his QB coach.

They’re back together at Missoula County Stadium when the crosstown foes collide Friday night.

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Hometown Pride Classic a win for Montana football

Hometown Pride Classic a win for Montana football

Even a narrow loss couldn’t keep the Ronan football team down.

“You don’t ever want to say you’re happy when you lose, but come on,” Chiefs head coach Jim Benn said gesturing to his surroundings. “Getting to coach here and letting our kids have this experience, I mean I’m watching my quarterback take pictures with his parents on the field.”

The special location was Washington-Grizzly Stadium Saturday, which hosted the first Hometown Pride Classic series between high school teams in Montana and Idaho — an event as pleasing to its organizer as it seemed to be to the players, coaches and fans involved.

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Montana's 2014 state softball brackets set

With the conclusion of Saturday’s championships in the Southwestern and Central A’s and Western B-C divisional softball tournaments, the state tournament brackets for Montana’s three high school sports classifications for spring 2014 are set.

Here are the first-round pairings for each, with tournament play beginning next Thursday in Great Falls and Polson:

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Drozdz sisters make it thrice as nice in Florence

If you had to pick a Florence softball player out of the lineup — not the criminal kind, the sporting one — the odds are pretty good you’d have just tabbed a Drozdz.

The Falcons have a rarity on their hands right now with a set of three sisters all in uniform, each of whom is contributing at the varsity level.

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Frenchtown honors retiring Libby coach Wally Winslow

In January, the spotlight at Frenchtown High School turned away from the court and onto Libby boys’ basketball coach Wally Winslow before the Loggers’ Northwestern A matchup with the Broncs. Frenchtown coach Michael Botsford paid tribute to one of the league’s long-time leaders who planned to retire at season’s end.

“I look up to him,” Botsford said. “It’s the good one’s like that that you love coaching against.”

Botsford, who has coached against Winslow in some capacity for a decade-plus, presented the 16-year Loggers’ coach with a trophy before the road crowd roared and cheered.

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How C. Falls coach Cary Finberg righted a reporter's blunder

As the old saying goes, everybody makes mistakes.

Anyone who’s ever worked in a news service knows this all too well — the embarrassing zing when an error makes it to the public’s eye is more common than any of us would like.

But not all reporter gaffes show up in newsprint. And I had a doozy two weeks ago while working on a story about Columbia Falls girls AND boys basketball coach Cary Finberg. Luckily, Finny came to my rescue.

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The anatomy of Sentinel's 31-2 run

Karen Deden racked her brain, trying to remember any time her Sentinel Spartan girls had rolled on such a run before.

“Maybe…,” the 14-year Sentinel head coach began before changing tracks, “but that wasn’t against AA.”

Any way you slice it, the Spartans’ 31-2 run against Western AA foe Kalispell Flathead on Saturday was one for the ages. The stretch leading into the first-half buzzer gave Sentinel a 37-7 lead and a definitive lock what would become a 53-25 victory.

But how did it all go down? Continue reading

Recent Posts

  • 03 Feb 2015

    UPDATED: 2015 national signing day's western Montana football commits

    UPDATED: With fall camps just around the corner, the list of western Montana natives in the Missoulian's coverage area has swelled near 50. Take a look:
      It’s national signing day 2015 and the National Letters of Intent were flying around this morning with local athletes securing their spots with college football programs. We’ll keep you updated with the area players who have made their commitments known throughout the day. Here’s a quick look at what we have so far. Don’t forget this is just a bare bones list right now and it will be updated often. Don’t see your name or your kid listed here? Leave it in the comments, or get in contact with us at or on twitter (@ajmazzolini).   MONTANA (4) TE Colin Bingham, Missoula Big Sky DE Andrew Harris, Kalispell Glacier S Josh Sandry, Bigfork DE Jesse Sims, Corvallis MONTANA STATE (5) LB Josh Hill, Kalispell Glacier LB Tanner Hoff, Hot Springs WR Logan Jones, Kalispell Glaicer QB Brady McChesney, Kalispell Glacier DE Byron Rollins, Missoula Sentinel EASTERN WASHINGTON (1) TE Jayce Gilder, Corvallis NORTH DAKOTA (1) TE Brock Shaide, Missoula Big Sky CARROLL COLLEGE (1) WR Paul Wilson, Missoula Hellgate MONTANA TECH (9) WR/RB Nate Gray, Hot Springs RB Jackson King, Missoula Sentinel WR/RB Danny Mannix, Flint Creek WR Sam McCamley, Kalispell Glacier WR Ty Morgan, Columbia Falls OL Matt Murphy, Missoula Big Sky OL Truman Pisk, Kalispell Glacier DB Tucker Rauthe, Kalispell Glacier LB Ike Schweikert, Columbia Falls MONTANA WESTERN (12) OL Zach Brown, Hamilton RB/LB Joe Caicedo, Darby WR Devin Cochran, Kalispell Glacier RB Cory Diaz, Missoula Big Sky RB/LB Jason Ferris, Dillon QB/S J.D. Ferris, Dillon WR/DB Justin Ferris, Dillon QB/DB Bo Hughs, Loyola Sacred Heart (transfer) RB/LB Raymond Matt, St. Ignatius LB Connor McKillop, Missoula Sentinel WR/DB Austin Ray, Corvallis OL Spencer Ross, Columbia Falls MONTANA STATE-NORTHERN (6) RB Zach Crace, Libby LB Travis Crawford, Missoula Big Sky FB Lane Foster, Hot Springs DL Trevor Frandsen, Missoula Big Sky MLB Jonathan Gragg, Missoula Hellgate OL Ryan Handley, Missoula Hellgate ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (3) LB Joe Gallatin, Polson DE Jesse Grabowska, Florence RB Marty Pigeon, Loyola Sacred Heart DICKINSON STATE (1) DB Cain Boschee, Kalispell Glacier LEHIGH (1) OL Harrison Kauffman, Kalispell Glacier MACALESTER COLLEGE (1) WR Jack Streibich, Whitefish
  • 23 May 2014

    Makena Morley gets creative to fund trip to track nationals

    Ever wanted an autographed photo of one of Montana's all-time record-breaking prep runners? Now's your chance. Bigfork High School junior and State B champion of champions Makena Morley is raising money through technology and grass roots to help her reach the New Balance Outdoor High School Track & Field Nationals meet in Greensboro, North Carolina in mid June. And any donors of $25 or more through the fundraising website receive a Morley original complete with signature.  As of this posting, Morley is about 75 percent of the way to her goal of $2,300 for travel and lodging costs for her and her father to the national meet. Events run June 13-15. Morley isn't new to the national running scene, but she appears to be getting create in funding her trips there. She won the West Regional of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships back in December and then finished eighth in the ensuing national race. "As a junior I have been to 4 national championship races (three in cross country and one for indoor track) but I have never won a national title, so this one is very important to me because I would love for this to be the year for me to win," Morley wrote on her fundraising page. "It is an important year for my college recruiting process, because this is the year when all colleges are looking at you and at what you have accomplished!" IndieGoGo is a kind of online kickstarter to raise money for a cause or idea. It's "the world’s most established crowdfunding platform," according to the organization's website. Crowdfunding is the process of pooling money from many different people for a cause. Morley, a three-time winner of the State B cross country title and Gatorade Runner of the Year for Montana, plans to run the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Nationals along with either the one or two mile. For more about her trip to nationals, or to donate, you can visit her page here.

  • 12 Feb 2015

    Entry to Montana wrestling's Four-Timers Club just got tougher

    Winning four straight state wrestling titles is hard enough, but the reclassification of weight classes in Montana that began this year will likely make the feat decidedly more difficult. When the Montana High Schools Association shifted from 15 to 13 wrestling classes, it eliminated the weight at which many four-timers wrestled as freshmen. The 98 and 105 weights were combined -- as were 195 and 220 on the upper end -- to form a new hybrid weight of 103 that will leave fewer holes in brackets and dual lineups. But it also adds new competition for the lightest weight, the one typically housing freshmen, by doubling the participants. "It's going to be interesting with the weight changes," said Columbia Falls wrestling coach Jesse Schaeffer, who has a senior in his wrestling room chasing state title No. 4 this week in Shonn Roberts. "I think that's going to maybe reduce that." Twenty-three Montana wrestlers have completed their four-peats and 11 of those started at 98 pounds of lower -- Gene Davis of Missoula County High, the state's first four-timer, won his freshman year at 95 pounds in 1960 before a similar weight shift later in the decade. Add in Roberts, who will compete at 138 pounds when state action begins Friday in Billings but won at 98 in 2012, and that's exactly half. "It's kind of weird since that's what I wrestled at as a freshman," Roberts began, "but 103, the 98-105 mix, I think that's reasonable. It'll make things a little bit tougher." That's hardly the thinking behind merging weights, though. At either extreme ends of the weight scale (195 and 220 became the 205 class) fewer teams -- especially at lower classifications -- could field a full lineup. Many times, too few entrants there led to a state bracket marred by automatic byes and regular season duals that might as well skip on to 105 pounds anyway. The unintended consequence is that 2015 may be near the last time wrestling fans will get a trio of four-time possibles all on the mats at the same time. Sidney's Gresh Jones joins Roberts in the Class A tournament this week at 126 pounds searching for his fourth, while Forsyth's Matt Weber will be the talk of Class B-C with a potential fourth title. Both boys won their first -- and lightest -- at 112 pounds, though.