MISSOULA – At number 3 on our countdown of the best sports stories of 2017 in Western Montana, we celebrate a remarkable day in three communities. Columbia Falls, Eureka and the Drummond/Philipsburg co-op all won state football championships on their home field on November 18th.
Let’s start in Columbia Falls, a town that had never before won a state football title. The Class A Wildcats came only one win away in 2016. But they finished the job on their home field this time versus Hamilton. The Cats destructive defense didn’t give up more than 20 points in any game all season, and they held the Broncs high-scoring offense in check in a 26-14 victory. And then even stoic head coach Jaxon Schweikert couldn’t escape the celebration.
“I’m not a big celebratory person,” said Schweikert. “But the kids and the coaches are. I like to kind of stay in the background.” But as soon as he finished that thought, Wildcat players dumped the traditional cooler of water over Schweikert’s head.
Just 60 miles to the northwest, a good team that had turned into a great team suddenly became a dynasty. Defending class B champ Eureka was supposed to take a step back after several star players graduated. Instead the Lions got better. They won every game by at least 23 points, and crushed Shelby in the championship 47-7, giving the whole town a much needed lift.
“It’s been a tough year in our community with fires,” said Eureka head coach Trevor Utter. “We’ve lost, like, five really prominent community members. So our town needs something to celebrate. This is a good chance to do it right here.”
On the 8-man field, Drummond and Philipsburg went from rivals to teammates four years ago. The co-op reached the top of the state with equal help from both schools. The Flint Creek Titans held off Forsyth 44-30 in a battle of undefeated teams, scoring the clinching touchdown in the final two minutes on a fourth down pass.
“I can’t even describe it right now. It’s ridiculous,” said receiver Jaxon Lee after the win. “I think we definitely deserved it. The other team played hard. We just went out there and we played how we have all season. I think we earned this one. I’m so proud of this team.”