VALIER — If the ball went up in Valier, it usually came down in the arms of Colten Curry.

That’s the advantage of being a 6-foot, 7-inch monster playing 6-Man football. And the combination of talent and natural ability led to a Division I scholarship with the Montana Grizzlies. Curry sent in his National Letter of Intent and made it official Wednesday morning, the first day of the NCAA’s new early signing period.

“It’s pretty sweet to finally get it over with,” Curry told MTN Sports. “It feels awesome. It’s been kind of stressful, trying to get everything filled out and sent off.”

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Curry is believed to be the first 6-Man football player to sign with the Griz since at least 2000, and the first from Valier since his dad, Scott, went to Montana in the mid-1990s. The older Curry won a national championship with Montana in 1995 and was a sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1999.

He hopes his son enjoys the experience of playing football for the maroon and silver just as much as he did.

“That’s some of the best times of my life,” Scott said. “I have lifelong friends there. There were 70-80 guys who had a common goal and common interests. Man, we had a good run there and hopefully these boys that are signing (Wednesday) can find out what it’s like to get deep in the playoffs and make championship runs.”

Colten Curry (center) receives a home visit from Griz head coach Bobby Hauck (right) and assistant Shann Schillinger (left). (Courtesy: Colten Curry)

Colten committed to the Griz this summer and the recent coaching change only strengthened his resolve. When Bobby Hauck returned to Montana to become the 37th Griz head coach earlier this month, one of his first stops was the Curry household. He laid out his vision for the family and both Colten and Scott were sold.

“It was the first time I’ve met him when he came to our house,” Colten said. “I loved his attitude and loved him. It was pretty sweet to know. He told us we’re going to work hard and do great things when we get there.”

“I’m a big coach Hauck fan,” added Scott. “I’ve known him for quite some time. (Former coach) Bob Stitt had his way of doing things and there was nothing wrong with that, but Bob Hauck does things differently. He’s a high-energy guy, a very disciplined guy and you can’t help but get fired up when he sits in your living room and tells you how he’s going to do stuff.”

As a 6-Man football player, Curry played all over the field for Valier. He signed with the Griz under the catch-all “Athlete” category and will likely play tight end or defensive end in Missoula.

“I’m excited to learn either,” Curry said.

Curry wasn’t the only Panther putting pen to paper on Wednesday. Trever VandenBos, a cornerback and receiver for the Panthers, inked with Montana Tech – making it two college recruits for the tiny Class C school with a total enrollment of 48 students.

“It’s sweet,” VandenBos said. “It shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from. If you’re willing to work hard and chase your dreams, you can do anything you want. And it shows the work ethic that the kids have had here. It pays off if you work hard, and Valier is pretty wild right now and a lot of people are really happy.”

Valier head coach Eric Watson watched both of these players develop over the years as they helped build the Panthers from a Class C afterthought to one of the best 6-Man teams in the state after back-to-back Northern C titles and state semifinal appearances.

“I’ve always said, I’ll put my athletes against the (Class) AA, A and other B/C kids,” Watson said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. … If you have the ability and the work ethic and the desire to get where you want to go, you can get there. You just have to keep that all in focus and make sure you carry it out. It’s good for our program and other (6-Man) programs because, hey, we can play football, too.”

Trever VandenBos poses with a Montana Tech shirt after signing with the Digger football program Wednesday morning. (TOM WYLIE/MTN Sports)