GREAT FALLS — The high school football regular season comes to an end this week, and the best game in Great Falls has been saved for last, as crosstown rivals Great Falls High School and CMR High School are ready to clash in the most exciting matchup of their seasons.
“You know, crosstown is a different vibe in the air. It’s a different feel in the air,” said CMR head coach Dennis Morris. “It doesn’t matter what the record is or who the kids are on the field. It’s a pride race and it’s something to get excited about.”
“Honestly, you kind of throw the records out when it comes to crosstown. Both teams are super excited,” added Bison coach Coda Tchida. “They are well-coached, they have great football players. It’s a tossup every year, and we’re excited for the opportunity to get out there Friday night and see what we can do.”
Both teams will enter the matchup with different agendas. The Rustlers have officially been eliminated from playoff contention, so they go into the game with nothing to lose and everything to gain. A win for CMR would be more than a moral victory — it would be their first win over the Bison in six years and could hurt Great Falls’ chances of getting a home game to start the playoffs.
“This game means everything to me. I’ve always loved playing Bison-Rustler crosstown games, and I really want to beat them this year because we haven’t beat them since I’ve been playing varsity,” said Rustler senior Kale Barnes.
“It means a lot. We didn’t make the playoffs, and I just want to make sure I can end on a good note and leave a sting for the Bison and send them to playoffs hopefully with a loss,” said CMR senior Dorian White.
Great Falls is coming off a big win over Billings Skyview and will be coming into the crosstown matchup “healthy” as described by coach Tchida. A win for Great Falls would more than likely secure the Bison a home game for the first round of the playoffs, but a loss could greatly hurt their chances, depending on results from games around Class AA.
“A home game is huge, not only for our kids but for the town of Great Falls. We would love to host a game. We would love to have home-field advantage that first round and set up an opportunity to go play one of the top two seeds in the other conference if we were to win that game,” said Tchida. “It’s a huge opportunity and the kids would be excited for it.”
The Bison seniors are undefeated in their high school careers against CMR and would love for Friday’s game to result in a full career sweep. But for one Bison senior, this year’s crosstown looks a little different. Running back Izayah Brown is a former Rustler who will face his old teammates for the first time. Although a lot of emotion can be involved in such a matchup, Brown is focused on the bigger picture.
“I think it’s most important to show no emotion and just come out, do my job, execute, and get off the field to get ready for playoffs,” Brown said.
Despite what the records say, CMR is confident that they match up up well with the Bison and could pull off a season-ending victory.
“On paper, statistically, I think we are right there and have every chance to beat them. We do have to take care of ourselves, so we can’t play like youth anymore. We have to play like grown men,” said Morris.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.