Football fans in Broadus are in for a rare treat later this month.
Two 6-Man state champions will take the field when Westby-Grenora meets Kaycee, Wyo. at 2 p.m. Aug. 25. Westby-Grenora won Montana’s 6-Man state championship last fall, defeating Bridger, 68-37, for the first title in program history. Kaycee won its third consecutive Wyoming 6-Man state championship with a 55-30 win over Farson-Eden last November.
“It’s huge,” said Westby-Grenora coach Troy Walters. “In fact, last week, I got invited to Nebraska to the coaches convention to speak. The Nebraska coaches knew about it. They asked, ‘Can we get your videotape of that game?’ I was like, ‘How’d you know about that?’ They said, ‘If we could, we’re going to drive up to the game and watch the game.’ When you get two powerhouses from two states, you’ve got a third state of coaches interested in the game, all in all, it’s a great thing for 6-Man football. Montana is excited to see what we have. Wyoming is excited to see what Kaycee has. I think it’s just a win-win for both programs, win or lose.”
Westby-Grenora has played in three of the past four Montana 6-Man state championship games, losing to Geraldine-Highwood in 2014 and Hot Springs in 2016. The Thunder broke through last fall, capping an undefeated season with that dominant win at Bridger. According to Walters, Westby-Grenora has a 23-2 record over the past two seasons, including a current 13-game win streak.
Kaycee has been more dominant on the Wyoming fields, though, winning 31 consecutive games. The Buckaroos have gone 11-0 each of the past two seasons and finished the 2015 year winning their final nine games.
“They graduated two really big studs, as well,” Walters said of the Buckaroos. “Danny Ramirez was one of the all-time leading touchdown scorers rushing the ball in Wyoming history. It’s going to be exciting. They’ve got some good kids coming back. We thought, ‘What the heck? It’s going to make us both better and we’ll see where we’re at.’”
Ramirez rushed for 259 yards and scored five touchdowns in Kaycee’s championship win last fall. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Ramirez is set to play football and run track at Chadron State in Nebraska.
Walters’ Thunder will be looking to replace two key players, as well. Jeremiah Paine, who set the 6-Man record for career touchdown passes last fall, is graduated and will be playing at Dickinson (N.D.) State this fall. Brian Field, a two-time all-state player for the Thunder, will be playing at the University of Jamestown.
“Starting practice next week, we do have four starters coming back on defense,” Walters said. “You take out Brian and Jeremiah, we’re going to hang our hat on our defense. We gave up about 19 points per game last year. Any time you can give up under 20 in 6-Man football, you’re pretty fortunate.”
“Offensively, we’re losing Jeremiah, so we’ve got to do some different things,” Walters continued. “Ridge Sargent had a great year last year with 32 touchdowns, so we’ll try to get him the ball in different ways. At quarterback, Darian Holecek is a sophomore, but he got a lot of varsity experience last year. … He’s been in our program, played a lot of (junior varsity) football last year. We had a successful JV team with him, so we’ll put the ball in his hands, get him in space and let him make plays.”
Kickoff between Westby-Grenora and Kaycee is slated for 2 p.m. on Aug. 25. The Thunder will begin the Montana portion of their schedule on Aug. 31 when they play host to Savage.