FRISCO, Texas — On the final night before the big game, thousands of Montana football fans gathered at a local minor league baseball park at a pregame rally called GrizFest.
Riders Field — home of the Frisco RoughRiders, a Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers — was filled with maroon and silver as the most die-hard Griz fans that embarked on the trip made their presence felt.
"We have season tickets, we’re in the front row, north end zone, yeah baby!" said Missoula natives Chris Cutts and Diana Hill. "We’re big fans, go Grizzlies! We love Montana, and we love Missoula!"
Missoula fans weren’t the only Montanans who made the trip, with Billings fans also making their way down. They were thoroughly impressed with all the Griz gear they’ve seen throughout the city.
"Seeing all the Griz fans in Texas, there's so many of them, it's really cool," said Billings native Owen Smith.
"It’s amazing," said his younger brother Riley Smith. "I didn't know there was going to be this many people here. It’s incredible."
The GrizFest event also had members from former all-time great Grizzly teams in attendance, with 1995 national champion Brian Toone being one of them.
"I’ve had nonstop goosebumps when I think this entire trip; the bus ride over, the plane ride. Just listen, it's contagious," said Toone. "And I hope these guys feel it, because I think the Griz like being underdogs a little bit. Let's go, right?"
Having played a huge role in bringing home the first national title in program history, the former star defensive tackle knows just how much this means to the Montana community.
"There's so much of that Montana pride that comes through, and you know you're doing it for more than just your teammates and your coaches," said Toone. "It's something to look around as this is so meaningful to so many people and this plays such an impact in our lives personally."
Montana faces South Dakota State on Sunday at noon Mountain time in the FCS championship game.