BILLINGS — The star was born at Daylis Stadium, where Junior Bergen wowed fans with his exploits on the gridiron for Billings Senior.
That star exploded last weekend when Bergen opened the FCS playoff quarterfinals against Furman with a kickoff return touchdown, then ignited Washington-Grizzly stadium again with a fourth-quarter punt return touchdown as part of Montana's 35-28 overtime victory.
“God is good, man. My teammates blocked it up really well. I was just back there praying to get a return ball. Thankfully I did. I saw Jackson look back at me and I was like, ‘Just block somebody. Get in someone’s way.’ He did and I just had to beat the last dude and we ended up in the end zone," Bergen said in Montana's post-game press conference.
“I'm just praying the whole time. I pray the whole game," Junior's father Simon Bergen told MTN Sports. "Happy to see he and the team having success and making plays. Those kids block their butts off for him, so it's good to see him taking advantage of it."
Bergen's name stands alone in the Montana record books now, as that was his fourth career punt return touchdown. He gave the nation a look at his open-field skills in that prime time slot on ESPN on Friday night, but those closest to him aren’t the least bit surprised.
“I don’t want to say you expect to see that kind of stuff, but just the stuff you’ve seen Junior do since he was two years old, around football, and the work he puts in — the real stuff he does behind the scenes – you kind of just sit there and wait for his moment to happen," Simon Bergen said.
“Not at all. that's Junior. He's always done things — one game after another his senior year he just would always do something and I'd look at his dad like, 'Do you believe that?'" Billings Senior head football coach Chris Murdock said.
Bergen has always been quick to deflect attention and credit those around him, and this of course was no different. Another humble, home-grown product has flourished at the FCS level, a testament to football in the Treasure State.
“That’s God, man. I’m just super blessed and thankful," Junior Bergen said.
“The great thing about Junior is he's going to be where his feet are and he's going to make the most of whatever opportunities come to him. He's going to love his teammates and just be a great kid. That's just Junior Bergen," Murdock said.
Bergen and the Griz are back in action this weekend at home against North Dakota State in the FCS semifinals, with kickoff slated for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.