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From co-workers to competitors: Bozeman and Gallatin football to meet again in Class AA semifinals

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Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 00:13:28-05

BOZEMAN — The snow plows have done their job. All that is left is for the players, coaches and fans of Bozeman and Gallatin football to file in Friday night for a crosstown rematch but this time, for a chance at the Class AA state title next week.

It’s the fourth ever crosstown football battle and the fourth time Gallatin head coach Hunter Chandler will match-up against Bozeman head coach Levi Wesche but if you knew their coaching backgrounds, these two have a lot in common.

As Chandler and Wesche get set to battle for a chance at a state title, at one time they were battling together for a state championship in 2019 when Chandler was the Bozeman High defensive coordinator under Wesche.

“When I look back and I kind of reminisce on that one, I'm very excited for him and what he's done,” Wesche said. “I'm happy that he's experiencing success.”

Both fall under the Mark Samson coaching tree starting from their days playing at MSU-Northern. Although they didn’t play together due to the age difference, both are products of the Hi-Line and the coaching staffs that made them who they are today.

For Chandler it was the combination of both Mark Samson and son Kyle who is the current Montana Tech head coach but formerly the offensive coordinator for the Lights when Chandler played in Havre.

For Wesche it was the combination of both Mark Samson and former Bozeman High football coach and current Carroll College head coach Troy Purcell that he attributes to his success.

“Mark taught me a lot about X's and O's and I think how I initially started seeing the game is a product of how Mark taught me to see the game,” Wesche explained.

From co-workers to competitors, this week’s second crosstown of the year is as hyped of a game this town has had in awhile but with everything on the line for both sides it’s another team to prepare for and nothing more.

“To be honest, it doesn't matter the opponent right now,” Wesche admitted. “For us, it's about maximizing the season for our seniors.”

For Coach Chandler, looking back from when Gallatin and Bozeman became two entities three years ago, it’s remarkable to see both now flourishing as they get set for an epic battle in the state semifinals.

“When the split happened, I don't think anyone really thought, year three that both teams in the town will be doing as well,” Chandler said.

Bozeman got the upper hand Oct. 14th winning the first crosstown match-up 38-14. After Gallatin’s gritty win against Helena High in the quarterfinals, it could be a closer game this time around but they’ll have to be sound against a well-oiled and well-balanced Bozeman High squad.