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MetraPark playoff game like a blast from the past for Billings Outlaws

Michael Bazemore
Posted at 8:56 PM, Jun 04, 2023

BILLINGS — A four-game winning streak by the Billings Outlaws to close the Champions Indoor Football regular season has set up a long-awaited postseason contest at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.

On Monday at 7:30 p.m. the Outlaws will welcome the Sioux City Bandits for the first indoor football playoff game at Metra since June 19, 2010.

The day after that game, of course, was when the infamous Father's Day tornado crippled the arena, forcing the Outlaws, then playing in the Indoor Football League, to finish the remainder of that year's playoffs at the Billings Sports Plex.

The Outlaws went on to win the 2010 championship with two wins at the Sports Plex, but the storm and the damage it caused to Metra ultimately forced that incarnation of the Billings franchise to cease operations. Now it's the current Outlaws team, resurrected for the 2022 season, bringing back what had become a regular and wildly popular occurrence.

Michael Bazemore, now the athletic director at Montana State Billings, was a defensive stalwart for the Outlaws from 2007-10, helping the franchise capture two league championships, including the 2010 title won at the Sports Plex.

Though his job as AD at MSU Billings keeps him busy, Bazemore said he has kept an eye on the current Outlaws team, and appreciates the season they have had.

"You always want to see something that you were a part of flourish when you're not actively a part of it anymore," Bazemore said. "For the young guys playing, the coaches, the owners, I want them to do well. I think it'd be great for Billings. It has a lot of benefits. And for them to have the experience of a home playoff game at the Metra is great."

The Outlaws come into Monday's game with a 6-4 record. Consecutive wins over the SW Kansas Storm, the Topeka Tropics, the Gillette Mustangs and the Rapid City Marshals catapulted Billings into the CIF playoff . Sioux City, meanwhile comes in with a 5-5 record.

Having been a prominent member of the Outlaws in years past, Bazemore said he has high hopes for the team this season.

Of his time as an indoor football player in Billings, Bazemore said: "I think back to the camaraderie that was built on those teams and the guys that came together for a common goal to win a championship. You just smile and think about some of the great times you had. That's the biggest thing I think about."

"I'm always thinking of championships," said Bazemore, who played college football at Michigan State. "I had the fortunate experience of winning two championships here (with the Outlaws), and so that's my expectation. And that's my expectation (at MSUB). My goal is to try to bring us to a championship level."

"We're happy that we're able to play in the Metra and stuff, but we're also happy that we're able to represent the community and to try to bring home a championship," Outlaws current head coach Shon King said.

The current crop of Outlaws hope to embark on a similar journey beginning Monday night.