BOZEMAN — One of the most popular FCS rivalries in the country is on Saturday. It’s the only two Division I schools in Montana going head-to-head in what is known as the Brawl of the Wild.
The game means a lot to the state of Montana, and it’s not hard to see why.
“Coming out of Billings, and playing at Billings West High School, one of my best friends, Kevin Klaboe, we both played tight end together,” Joe Schreibeis, a tight end for the Bobcats between 2005-2009 said. “He went to play for the Griz and I went to play for the Cats and it was almost like the divide started immediately once we went to college.”
And how exactly does one grasp the intensity and power behind this game?
“As I began to talk to guys who are on the team, guys who are from Billings, guys from Augusta, they cherish that rivalry,” Bobcat defensive back from 2011-2014 Deonte Flowers said of his first introduction to Cat-Griz. “It means a lot to them. The Cat-Griz game, it gets intense.”
“I enjoyed playing there my freshman year and what not, I’m excited to go back,” Current junior wide receiver Kevin Kassis said about Washington-Grizzly Stadium, where the game is held this year. “When you get hit by that first snowball by a fan, you know its real, real quick.”
“The fans at Grizzly Stadium were like no other,” Former Bobcat Tight End from 2000-2003 Jon Montoya said. “Right away when we ran through that stadium and to the sideline and we had the crowd right on our shoulders.”
And the environment didn’t change ten years later when Flowers played.
“When you’re at Washington-Grizzly, it’s just tight in there. The fans are right there behind you,” Flowers said. “They’re just right there in your face, screaming things. That’s one of the big things I remember, is the proximity of the fans to the MSU bench.”
And those who don’t experience it usually don’t understand it.
“I remember John Widenenaar, he would not even say or talk about the Griz, that’s when I understood as a freshman the intensity of this week in particular, and that’s a huge deal,” Flowers said.
But all the hard work pays off in the end to be able to seal the win.
“Proving you’re the better team in the state,” Schreibeis said about why this game means so much. “And really, if you beat the Griz, the season is a success.”
“The picture of the Cats winning the Cat-Griz game, and a group of guys surrounded around that trophy carrying it each on one side, it’s just a beautiful picture.” Flowers said. “You’ve got that team aspect with each guy carrying that trophy, you got the Great Divide Trophy in your hands, you’ve just won the big game, you beat the Griz, it’s just really a sweet, sweet feeling to take that trophy off the field.”