By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Back by popular demand, it's the opportunity to poke fun at people around the Hi-Line, as well as, humiliate myself by my total lack of sports knowledge - it's Armchair Quarterbacks!!!
(Insert applause and wild screams)
Okay, that might be a little over-the-top and a little too sarcastic. But really, this segment is only part about picking football games, and more about me shamelessly teasing others while promoting myself.
Another season of Armchair Quarterbacks is upon us, and, frankly, I was dreading it. It's not easy finding guests, finding experts, finding good games and finding things to make fun of people about. But yet, somehow I manage.
I was planning on having an exciting A-list celebrity as our first guest. It started off with Jennifer Garner turning us down, then turning her attack dog and bodyguards on me. She is going to marry me at some point or gun point. It's her choice.
We tried for a B-list celeb next, but the guy who plays "Fez" on "That 70's Show" was busy dating out of his league with Lindsay Lohan, and Nick Lachey was still trying to explain to his wife that a thesaurus was not a dinosaur.
We went all through the C-list celebs, but the entire cast of "Full House" minus the Olsen twins, the members of the Backstreet Boys and Dr. Phil were unavailable.
We even tried for people that are famous for no apparent reason. But Paris Hilton was locked in spelling contest with Trishelle from "The Real World," and Boston Rob and Rupert from "Survivor" are auditioning for a spot on "The Bachelor"
So, where does that leave us? Well, without a celebrity guest for our first week. To be honest, it's probably a good thing. We don't need somebody on this panel who comes off all high and mighty and better than everyone else, that's what we have George Ferguson for.
Anyway on to this week's guest. Normally, I would use the remaining space to mock, ridicule, tease and needle our guest picker for the week. But not this time.
Sorry. To put it very honestly: I'm still a little afraid of Keith Evenson. He may have turned 60-years-old three days ago, but I'm still scared.
I am not certain where it came from, because I never had him as a teacher when he was at the Havre Middle School. I was one of those angelic Havre Central kids. I think it came in high school after becoming friends with his youngest daughter, Shaela.
Let's be real honest here. Keith is not a small man. He is taller than me (as are most people) and just has this intimidating quality.
What's even more strange is that he is anything but intimidating. He prefers mellow things like golf and fishing, and he actually choked up a little last year when he retired as the longtime Havre High golf coach.
Nowadays, Keith, and his wife Sandy, are living the good life of retirement in Kalispell on the Village Greens Golf Course, and not far from his hometown of Whitefish.
"It's a seven-day weekend," Keith said over the phone. "We absolutely love retirement. Yesterday, we went and visited my brother at his place on Flathead Lake. We fished all day and barbecued that night."
When exactly can I retire from my job?
It seems like Keith's biggest choices everyday are whether to go fishing at one of the many lakes in the area, or step out of his house and hit the golf course just out of his backyard.
"I haven't been on the golf course as much as I'd like to be, Sandy's keeping me busy with chores," he joked.
But even during his seven-day play week. Keith still keeps close ties with Havre. He is constantly checking on how the HHS golf team is doing, which can be a difficult process.
"I try to keep track, but I can't find anything on the Internet," he said. " I usually end up calling (head coach) Karla Bolken and finding out how they're doing."
Even the days of leisure haven't replaced his love for coaching.
"I really do miss coaching big time" he said. "I loved getting out there and working with the kids. I was very lucky to have Karla when I coached, she really helped out a lot and is going to do a great job."
Instead of spending time with the high school golfers, Keith is going to get a chance to watch some professional golfers next weekend when he travels to suburban Detroit to watch the 35th Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Club.
"My brother-in-law lives over there and he has four tickets," he said. "We've never been to his house and I've never seen a professional golf tournament."
For a golf fanatic, the Ryder Cup is possibly the best event to go to. For people not familiar, the 10 best players from the U.S. and the 10 best players from Europe go head-to-head in a series of different golf matches over four days for the prized Ryder Cup. It is played every two years and is high drama.
Right now, our entire expert panel, which is composed of all golfers, is looking even more jealously at Keith. Seven-day weekend and the Ryder Cup? It's too much.
Keith said he hopes to watch to Tiger Woods play some, but admitted the crowds will be tough. Instead, he has other favorites.
"Fred Funk always has a lot of fun when he plays and I want to watch him," Evenson said. "I also want to see Jay Haas play. It's going to be neat."
Still, it's hard to tell what golf tournament has Keith more excited, the Ryder Cup or the Flat-Fish Invitational, which the Ponies will be competing in at the end of the September in Kalispell and Whitefish.
"I'll be there for that," he said. "I'm excited to see some of the kids and see how they're playing."
It is the people of Havre that is the only thing he can compare to workless days.
"We really like it over here and how green it is," he said. "But we really miss the people in Havre. They are just fantastic. Luckily, we've had a lot friends come over and visit and we really like that."
Keith will get the chance to see some Havre people when he heads over to the Havre-Whitefish game on Saturday. Even though he is a Whitefish native, he is taking the Ponies out of loyalty, and due to Whitefish's numerous injuries.
"I know most of the kids on Havre's team," he said. "I think I know one on Whitefish."
As for his other picks, Keith went with Billings Central over Miles City after playing Havre so tough. He also took Anaconda in an upset over Butte Central. In college games, he went Carroll over Northern and both the Cats and Griz to win.
As for a preference for either UM or MSU, he was a little diplomatic.
"I like Mike Kramer a lot, I think he does a good job," he said. "I like the Grizzlies, but I am not a big fan of their head coach (Bob Hauck), the way he acted after last year's Cat-Griz game was terrible."
Ouch. Anyway, Keith stayed with favorites in the NFL games. But did say he is watching to see how Kurt Warner does with the Giants this season.
Like Keith, Warner may soon be retired as well if he has another bad season. But how bad can seven-day weekends be?
As for our expert panel this year, you will notice some changes. No, it isn't that I'm gaining weight or growing a beard, and Harvey isn't going grayer from dealing with George and I. We changed a few of our experts in hopes of giving me a fighting chance of not finishing last.
Obviously, George and I return, along with Harvey, who is our boss, and we know we can sucker into picking against the Griz every week. We also returned defending champion Wells Lamey against my better judgment. I knew there would be a slight outcry if we didn't have Wells in the game, but does he have to win every week?
We've replaced Barry Zanto with a pair of experts, because, well, Barry was that good. Jim Kato, a local certified public account, PGA teaching pro and Skylight assistant golf coach joins the panel. Like Harvey, Jim is a shameless Cat fan as evidenced by picking Hofstra to beat the Griz this week. He is also a Dallas Cowboy fan. So I guess that means Jim's getting two losses this week.
Our female expert is Northern student and Skylight golfer Julie Wagner. We figured since Julie's younger brother, Gary, quarterbacks the Ponies, she will offer some good insight. She didn't, unless you count who is dating who in the high school, and the social ramifications of "Golden Girls" reruns.
Julie, like the rest of her family, is a Minnesota Vikings fan, so she will be excited early on in the season, only to be disappointed at the end. Still, she went to UM and is a Griz fan. By my calculations, that makes four Griz fans to two Cat fans on the panel. Funny how that works.
Thanks for the suggestions for the experts and pickers, they were not met by deaf ears. We are compiling a list of possible guests, but we could always use more suggestions. So call us, fax us, e-mail us, grab us on the street or buy us a beer in the bar. That last method will definitely warrant automatic consideration.