GREAT FALLS – It’s crosstown football time in Great Falls once again. The blue of Great Falls High and the green of CMR will go at it once more on Friday, symbolizing the end of the Class AA regular season.
But unlike previous years, the game this season means more to Great Falls High. The Bison have lost four consecutive games, but with a win over its crosstown rival and help from some other teams, Great Falls High has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
“It would be really special, especially since we haven’t been to the playoffs around here in a long time,” said GFH senior defensive back Keegan Bistodeau. “To gain momentum by beating your crosstown rival, that could help us a lot in the playoffs, too.”
“This crosstown game hasn’t meant a lot for a long time. Obviously if we get a win and a couple things happen, and we’re in the playoffs,” said GFH senior quarterback Blake Thelen. “We don’t know how the tiebreaker is going to go, we don’t know yet, but right now we just have to take care of business and get that win.”
But you know the Rustlers from CMR will not go down easily. The team has played better than its record at times, holding tough for a while against playoff teams like Kalispell Flathead and Billings West before each ended in losses these past two weeks. CMR would like nothing more than to win crosstown for the second straight year and boot the team from the other side of the Missouri River right out of the playoff hunt.
“It would be the way to go out, for sure. We’ve been playing together for years, since we were little little kids, growing up playing in boys and girls clubs, flag football, and at recess,” said CMR senior running back Jayson Ingalls. “We’ve been playing against those guys (at Great Falls High) for forever, too. Just to come out with a win and have something that we can remember forever would be the way to go.”
“It would mean the world. Without us making the playoffs, this might as well be our championship game,” said CMR senior offensive lineman Cole Reardon. “It’s the biggest game for us ,and it’d be even sweeter to knock (the Bison) out of the playoffs if we could.”
There’s nothing better in sports than a good, old-fashioned rivalry: the battle for town pride, the intense atmosphere, the respect for each other’s programs but the will to be the better team.
“It’s always a great crowd. The community supports our football teams every year,” said CMR head coach Gary Lowry. “Regardless if it’s a playoff team, not a playoff team, whatever the records are, it’s always a good crowd. Our fans support it and it’s always a good football game.”
“In all the crosstown games I’ve ever coached in, when you win you kind of have a little bit more bounce in your step,” said GFH head coach Mark Samson. “When you see the other side of town you kind of feel a little bit different about them. If we focus on what we can do and we just go out and play hard, we should be all right.”