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Butte High, Bozeman set to renew rivalry for first time since 2019 championship

Kenneth Eiden IV
Posted at 8:18 AM, Aug 31, 2023

BUTTE — Back in 2014, when Butte High football was still a member of the Eastern AA, the Bulldogs and Bozeman High — years before crosstown rival Bozeman Gallatin was built — began playing for a piece of hardware known as the Homestake Trophy.

Then in 2019, the Bulldogs were shifted into the Western AA to make way for Eastern AA newcomer Belgrade, meaning that Butte and Bozeman meeting every year was no longer guaranteed. The Hawks and Bulldogs ultimately did meet that season in the 2019 State AA championship at Naranche Stadium.

The Hawks surged to a 49-28 victory in that last meeting, bringing the Homestake Trophy back to Bozeman where it's resided for the past four years.

But on Friday, it'll be up for grabs again.

Butte and Bozeman, both coming off Week 1 victories, are set to rekindle their rivalry in the final week of non-conference AA action at Naranche Stadium with kickoff set for 7 p.m. The current senior class would have been in 8th grade during that 2019 title game meaning that none of these players have ever faced off.

Butte head coach Arie Grey said he's excited to see a new generation of players get to experience this rivalry. He's also eager to see his team go up against one of the best squads in the Eastern AA as it'll give his team — fresh off a wild comeback win over Billings West last week — a chance to assess where it's at as it gears up for conference play.

"It's nice to have that rival back and play against them," Grey said. "I'm excited because of the fact that Bozeman is so well coached and it's another place to see where we're at, where we are now. I'm excited to see where that is."

The Hawks opened their season with a 21-14 victory at Helena, with Kellen Harrison tossing two touchdowns, including the go-ahead fourth-quarter score to Jack O'Brien.

Butte's win was a little more dramatic, with the Bulldogs overcoming seven turnovers and three scoreless quarters to somehow pull past Billings West on the road. Senior quarterback Bo Demarais accounted for both a rushing score and passing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Bulldogs ahead, and a last-minute interception from Will Stepan preserved the wild season-opening victory for Butte.

"It was crazy, but I just kept telling myself I got to have that next-play mentality," said Demarais. "Obviously the defense was doing great so it really kept me going. I think it makes me a lot more confident, eases the nerves. And as we go into the next one, we'll be ready for it."

With this being a non-conference game, it remains to be seen when Butte and Bozeman might meet again. But for one night at least, the Bulldog-Hawk rivalry will be renewed.