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After title runs in Class B, Shrine Game serving as swan song for Florence's Pat Duchien

Pat Duchien
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 13, 2024

BUTTE — The countdown continues for the 77th Montana East-West Shrine Game this weekend, and the man leading the West All-Stars in Butte this week is Florence-Carlton's Pat Duchien.

Duchien led the Falcons for seven seasons, but in the past three led them to state titles as Florence became the first ever Class B program to three-peat.

Florence has had a nice pipeline to the Shrine game over the past few years because of the program's success, and this year's crop of graduates are soaking in having completed the 3-peat.

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So for Duchien and the Florence representatives, this is one special, final game together.

"Looking back on it now, it's crazy it's all over, but at the same time, we got three and it was just awesome to, you know, sit back and watch that that hard work actually did pay off," safety Tyler Abbott said. "Means the world to be out here with them, you know, because honestly, I didn't think I'd be out here with them, but just being out here, it's going to be awesome. Just play with them one more time, just one more run."

"Teamwork. And then just our connections with our coaches were amazing," added defensive end Ethan Alexander. "Our coaches were awesome. They pushed us every day to be better. You know, they're like our dads out there. They're amazing.

"There's probably nine Class B kids out here, and, I mean, we're out here pushing everybody. Everybody's pushing everybody. And it's a great environment out here to play with the best of the best in the state. And it's awesome."

A big part of that run was because of Duchien, who took over the program seven seasons ago and slowly, year-by-year, built the program into a powerhouse in Class B.

"It's been more about thinking about all the kids that have came through, all the good kids that have come through that program, their success stories," Duchien reflected. "The reflection is a lot about the players and just how they really, truly bought into a culture that was unknown seven years ago, they didn't know it, you know. And you're not going to change it right away. So those guys were the first hand in it."

Duchien stepped down after the season was over, and assistant coach Adam Goodnight will take over the reins of the program. And Duchien's impact was felt strongly by those he coached, and will get to coach one more time in the Shrine Game.

"He (brought) a fantastic culture to Florence, and he really was one of the big reasons we were successful," defensive tackle Arie McLaughlin said. "He held every single one of us accountable, from freshmen to seniors. He did a lot for the program. He raised a lot of money. He did a lot of good stuff for the coaching staff. (Brought) a lot of good people in when we needed people. He's just a fantastic guy, and he'll do anything for any single one of us on that team."

"It was awesome. You know, he's like my dad," Alexander added. "He pushed me to be everything I am today, and it meant so much. He's amazing."

So collectively, Duchien and his former Falcon players will coach and play in one final high school game this weekend before going separate ways, as they get to represent the community of Florence, play for the Shrine's bigger cause, and bask in the successes they helped build in the program over the years.

"It's the culture. It's seeing the kids do the right things, you know, off the field, in the classroom, in the school, taking care of each other when somebody's down, just that family atmosphere that you just saw year in and year out, that they just kept coming together and coming together," Duchien said. "I don't think it's about the rings or the championships. I think it's about these kids growing into phenomenal young men."