BOZEMAN – On Wednesday, four Bozeman Hawks signed to play Division I football next year. But there’s a bit of a catch — they’re split between rival schools.
Joe Olsen and Ryan Lonergan are headed to Montana State, while Ryan Simpson and Kris Brown are committed to the University of Montana.
“Getting to play in front of my hometown team for another four years, in front of my family and friends, that means a lot to me. That’s why I wanted to commit here,” said Lonergan, who will play tight end for the Bobcats.
“It definitely feels a little weird being from Bozeman, but going there I knew it was the right place for me, so I’m glad I made that decision,” said Simpson when committing to Bozeman’s rival school.
Before Wednesday, the Griz didn’t have a single Bozeman player on their roster. But that pipeline is beginning to open. And that’s because of head coach Bobby Hauck.
“He’s got connections to every part of the country. Just talking with him, he knows his stuff, he’s a good coach,” said Brown, who will join Montana as a quarterback. “And he also has all that experience, and I think without Coach Hauck, it would’ve made it tougher decision.”
Even though Bozeman gave Simpson and Brown a tough time about heading to the Griz, the four best friends are excited to get the blood boiling.
“I think it will be a good rivalry just because we will always be friends still, but it will be fun to compete against each other and give each other crap, I guess,” said Olson, a running back for the Hawks.
But that friendly competition just fuels the fire that much more on both sides, to the point where Brown wants to play so good that it turns his hometown against him.
“I think my goal as I go into college is going to be the most hated person in Bozeman,” Brown laughed. “So that’s probably going to happen if I get that starting spot eventually. But it is what it is, I don’t expect them to love U of M here.”