High school rivals now line up as teammates at Montana Tech as practice began this week for Montana's West team, who is preparing for the 68th annual Montana East-West Shrine game.
"It's been a lot of fun, either playing with these guys or against them, or maybe even in a different class and you've kinda always wanted to play with them or against them," said West receiver Mick Paffhausen from Dillon. "Now it's an opportunity to do that and I'm going to really take advantage of it."
"(Pat) Schulte from Butte Central here, you know one of our nemesis all the time, but I'll tell you he's a great man," said West head coach Rick Nordahl from Dillon. "It's a great opportunity to work with him."
The Shrine game marks the end of high school football for all these players, but it also marks the beginning of college football for others. Some, like Butte Bulldog quarterback Dallas Cook, have called Butte home their entire life. After this game however, Cook will head to North Dakota to play college football.
Others, like Paffhausen who will play at Montana Tech next year, will spend the next four years of their lives in Cook's hometown.
"It's exciting to be here finally and get to test out the turf early," said Paffhausen.
"It's probably my last game in Montana," said Cook. "And just to play with all these guys I've been playing against and know how great of personality they have, it's really fun."
Now former rivals will line up as one team, with one goal: Bring the title to the West
"It's nice to have an opportunity to have (these rival kids) on our side," said Nordahl. "The kids have just been doing a great job all week and they're excited."
"Not many people are picked throughout the state," said Cook. "So to be on this team is really great."
"It's been something I've always wanted to do since I was a little kid," Paffhausen said. "Always been here, coming and watching it, and it's finally here and I'm really excited to be here."