BUTTE — All-star season has arrived in the Mining City.
Football players from across Montana gathered at Montana Tech on Monday afternoon to begin the week’s preparation for the 35th annual Bob Cleverley 8-Man All-Star Game Saturday night. Players and coaches reported on Monday afternoon, with the first of eight practices held that evening.
Forsyth coach Shawn Hollowell leads the Red Team, while Mike Cutler of state champion Drummond-Philipsburg has the head coaching duties of the Blue Team. Cutler says putting together a game plan in a short amount of time is relatively simple due to the caliber of athletes, but some of the smaller details provide challenges.
“It’s just the organizational part of it. Typically the Monday and Tuesday practice is chaotic and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Man, I don’t know. We’re not very good.’ Then you get to Thursday and think, ‘Yeah, we’re pretty good,'” laughed Cutler. “You have to keep in mind, these guys are all all-stars and they all have all-star football minds. It’s a little different than when you have an entire high school team, where maybe some of those kids aren’t necessarily as sharp as the rest of them when it comes to football knowledge. It makes it easier that way. It’s just getting all these organization, special teams and all of those situations covered is the challenge.”
Saturday’s all-star game is the high point of the week for the 8-Man all-stars, but it’s hardly the only entertainment they’ll see. The week’s itinerary boasts a barbecue, swimming at nearby Fairmont Hot Springs, a trip to the movies, as well as bowling, mini golf and pizza.
Fun is clearly at the forefront of all-star week, but how quick can players flip the switch to competitive to ensure their team leaves victorious?
“It’s pretty easy, we’re all competitive,” said Colton Grange, the quarterback of the state championship-winning Titans. “It’s super cool being here and it’s good to pay our dues, but at the end of the day we still have to win our game and be competitive. It’s not very hard for us.”
“There’s certainly a certain amount of fun you can have with it,” added Park City’s Rylan Gauthier. “We’re always looking for that one goal, that’s to win, but we’re having fun along the way.”
“Right now it’s pretty intense, but I think it’s going to get more fun toward the end of the week,” said Joliet’s Trey Oswald. “Getting to play with different people, I mean, during the season we got used to playing with our own guys. We knew what it was going to be like, what everyone else liked to do. It’s just real different playing with a new group of guys.”
Rivals become friends during the week’s festivities, but Charlo head coach Mike Krahn, an assistant for the Blue Team, says once jerseys are handed out Wednesday afternoon, players tend to stick to their own team for the remainder of the week.
The annual Bob Cleverley 8-Man All-Star Game banquet will be held Friday night beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday’s tailgate party will begin at 5 p.m. at Montana Tech, with player introductions slated for 5:30 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
To view the rosters for the 2018 Bob Cleverley 8-Man All-Star Game, please click here.