Twin Bridges High School Football Team, c. 1930.

I saw in today’s paper that Twin Bridges made it through the football semifinals and will play for the Montana Class C State Championship next week.

I’m not a sports fan, but when my high school alma mater plays for a state championship, it grabs my attention. In high schools like mine that’s rare event—something that happens every 50 years or so.

Twin Bridges plays in Montana’s Class C Athletic Division, which consists of high schools of about a hundred students. There are dozens of such schools in Montana so it’s hard to make it through the welter of playoffs to a state championship.

In these tiny schools nearly every able bodied male—even a clumsy one like me—is on the football team. Even so, it can be hard to field an eleven-man team. The solution: eight-man football with three backs and five linemen. With a larger fraction of players allowed to handle the ball and a smaller field, eight-man is a dynamic game. Some say it’s more fun to watch than eleven-man.

On Saturday, Twin Bridges beat Ennis in the semifinal 27 to 6. The highlights of the game must have been touchdown passes from quarterback Tyler Lott to Cole Miotke.  (Here’s the story from The Montana Standard.)

Lott and Miotke must be the grandchildren of people I went to school with. Lott is probably a descendent of the brothers who built toll bridges across the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers in the 1860s and founded Twin Bridges. The Miotkes are newcomers having arrived in the area about 50 years ago.

The continuity of communities like Twin Bridges is part of what makes their sports so intense.  If you’re on the team, people probably will compare you not just to your older brother, but also to your uncle, or maybe even your grandfather. I wonder if this year’s team includes any descendents of Twin Bridges football team that played for the state championship on Thanksgiving Day, about 1952.

I attended that game, but didn’t watch much of it.  A blizzard blew in the night before and temperatures hovered in the low teens on game day—with a stiff wind and blowing snow. It was so damn cold that I spent most of the game in the cab of my father’s truck.  He left the engine running and the heater on, so I got periodic reports from people who froze out and came to the truck to warm up.

I wish I could remember those reports.  I suspect the game was mostly just the two teams bashing at each other up and down the frozen field. It was too cold and windy to risk a passing game, but I like to think that my brother, who was an end, snagged a dramatic pass that cinched the game.

I wish this year’s team better weather and better luck this week.  Go Falcons! Beat Fairfield!


—  Photo from the Brooks Collection, Montana State University Libraries.