BILLINGS — Billings Central’s Clay Oven saw his childhood dream come true earlier this fall.
The standout senior Ram linebacker and running back announced he’ll continue his football career at the University of Montana.
“Every kid growing up in Montana I think has a goal to play there. It’s hard to beat the environment, so right away I knew that was the choice for me," said Oven.
“We get to see a different side of (Oven). He’s an outstanding young man who is going to be a leader. He’s going to lead not only on the field but in the classroom," said Billings Central head coach Jim Stanton. "All the things they do, he has that spirit about them. He takes care of a lot of our management business. He’s a great young man to have on our team.”
Once Oven swaps the green for maroon, he won’t be the two-way star he is now. He’s certainly going to embrace his final year toting the rock before he flips around to deliver the blows.
“It’s weird to think just playing one side of the ball. I feel like ever since I’ve been little it’s been both sides, you’re going all the time. That’ll be a change, but it’ll be a good change to focus on one side of the ball," said Oven. "(I'm) just taking it all in. It’s exciting scoring touchdowns, especially in front of your home fans, but definitely taking it all in.”
For years Montana’s legacy number has been worn by native Montanans and is traditionally passed down by defensive players. Wearing that No. 37 is certainly something he’s had on his mind.
“Any Montana kid wants to wear that number. You see the tradition and pride it carries on there. That’s the goal, but any way you can get there," Oven said. "Super excited to be able to go say you’re a part of that organization, it’s really a lot for the state of Montana.”
For now, though, Oven’s focus is on leading Billings Central back to a State A title game, where the Rams haven’t been since being shut out by rival Laurel in 2020.
Central will play the Locomotives in Laurel on Friday night.