By George Ferguson
It has been a good long while since I have graced the pages of the Havre Daily News with a sports column. The few of you who hopefully read my material may have thought that I fell off the face of the earth, but the truth is that I have just been typing an extraordinary number of golf scores all summer.
Not to mention, I have been moonlighting at Beaver Creek Golf Course (a.k.a. my second home). But with each year one can be assured that the seasons will change and time must march on.
So, as I wipe the sweat from forehead after one of the hottest and most tiring summers of my life, I can now begin to actually look forward to the school year.
I know it sounds insane, but I am looking forward to school - not for myself, but because the beginning of the 2003 school year also marks the beginning of a new high school sports season. And for me that means doing something I dearly love, which is writing about all the fantastic things that will go on in Havre and the Hi-Line over the course of the next eight months.
Make no mistake, the 2003 high school sports season is now upon us and if the first two weeks of the year are any indication of things to come, then area sports nuts can expect a lot of drama and excitement this school year. And just in case you're not quite sure what to expect, let me whet your appetite for you.
As everyone knows, the 2002 high school football season ended on a heartbreaking note for the Havre Blue Ponies last fall. Many people, myself included, walked away from Blue Pony Stadium last year wondering how Havre High head coach Troy Purcell and the remaining Havre players can ever recapture the magic they had in 2002?
The answer is ... they can't.
But what is obvious now, is that the 2003 Havre High team is poised to make their own magic this season and football fans shouldn't miss a single moment. The Ponies have a young and exciting team led by senior wide receiver Daine Solomon, junior quarterback Gary Wagner and junior tailback Scott Robinson. As evident in their season opening win over Sidney, Havre will put points on the board and has shown that another state championship run is not out of the question.
Look for home games against Whitefish, Glendive and a state-wide televised game against Lewistown to be keys to the Ponies season along with a Sept. 26 trip to conference favorite Belgrade. The Central A conference championship just may be decided that evening.
And Havre High isn't the only football team making noise in the area this season. Many publications have picked the Big Sandy Pioneers to be among the very best Class C football teams in the state this season.
The Pioneers are loaded with talent and size. They feature a great tailback in senior Skylar Pearson as well as a great passer in senior Gage Brumwell. And don't forget about all-state end Mason Ophus either. If you didn't see the Pioneers play last season, I would highly suggest making a trip to Chester on Sept. 26 to watch them try to avenge a heartbreaking overtime home loss to the Coyotes in 2002.
Speaking of the Coyotes, Chester should be another of the Northern C teams that will be in the playoff hunt as well.
If six-man football is your thing, there is plenty of that action as well. The J-I Rams are favored to contend for a conference championship this season and if you want excitement, then look no further than in Box Elder on Oct. 4 when the host Bears take on the Rocky Boy Stars in one of the Hi-Line's biggest football rivalries.
And football isn't the only thing going on this fall. The Havre High volleyball team is off to a 2-0 start and they are looking poised to make a run at a Central A title in 2003. The Chinook Sugarbeeters volleyball team is also predicted to be one of the favorites in District 2B action this season. Those two teams will renew that old rivalry in Havre on Sept. 13.
Meanwhile, the Havre High cross country team has a host of experienced runners back from a team that has finished well at the Class A state meet each of the past two seasons and the Havre High golf teams already have two weeks under their belt. The Pony boys team features an exciting group of players led by senior Trent Normandy. The Ponies will also host the Central A divisional tournament here on Oct. 4.
And that is just the fall. There is basketball, wrestling, swimming, tennis and track and field still to come. Just talking about it has made me even more excited to get started than I was before.
So welcome back athletes, parents, coaches, students and fans. Please don't miss any of the exciting sports that will be coming to our local area over the next school year. I know I won't, and I hope to see you at the games.
Sportswriter George Ferguson has covered the high school sports for the past year for the Havre Daily. He can be reached at 265-6795 or at firstname.lastname@example.org