The fall sports season on the Hi-Line began just the way it ended. With football fireworks.
It's hard to fathom that the Chinook Sugarbeeters put an emphatic stamp on the fall sports season on a snowy and bitterly cold November day when the season began in almost the same manner.
Well it began, minus the ridiculously bad weather.
The year began with plenty of football optimism when summer was still in the air. On the same Saturday back in August, the Havre Blue Ponies and Montana State University-Northern Lights romped to season-opening wins, and the fall sports season was off and running.
And we all know how it ended in Chinook.
Sandwiched in between however, was an intriguing three months of football, volleyball, cross country races and even some golf.
There were highs and there were lows, there was plenty to celebrate and plenty of what if's and maybe's.
That's sports and this fall didn't disappoint.
The Blue Ponies and Lights went on to experience plenty of highs and lows.
HHS had exciting wins and good play, mixed with tough losses to veteran teams like Butte Central and Belgrade. But the Ponies persevered under new head coach Jason Christenson, making the Class A playoffs and playing eventual Class A champion Miles City very tough in the first round of the playoffs. HHS lost twice to Miles City this season, and with a bulk of the Pony roster returning, the Ponies gave fans plenty to look forward to in 2011.
The fall sports season at Northern was certainly one of highs and lows.
The Lights won three games in 2010, but also showed why they can't be overlooked in the coming year.
Northern broke a bitter losing streak dating back to 2009, won a great game on the road at Montana Tech and captivated fans with a thrilling overtime win over UM-Western.
There were also tough-to-swallow losses at home to Tech and Rocky Mountain College and two heartbreakers to Eastern Oregon.
But the Lights competed all year, they turned heads at times with an exciting and explosive offense, and they certainly proved things are on the right track in Havre.
So to is the Northern volleyball program.
The Skylights won 11 matches this season, the most wins the program has compiled in five seasons.
MSU-N also endured the tragic loss of teammate Shaina Evans, who was killed in a car accident last summer.
With a heavy heart all year long, the Skylights played with emotion and passion and were a much-improved team this year, competing with every team in a loaded Frontier Conference.
High school volleyball on the Hi-Line had its ups and downs as well.
The Havre Blue Ponies had a competitive season and played at a high level at times. The Ponies too were a young team, like so many others in the area this year, and that could lead to big things in 2011.
There were great moments all over the area this year, and the end of the fall sports season gave local fans plenty of excitement.
The Lights went to mighty Carroll College and finished their season by playing the Saints well, despite a multitude of injuries. The Ponies played Miles City tough, and no one will forget the run Big Sandy made in the Six-Man playoffs, or of course, Chinook's magical Class C state championship.
And as our attention now fully turns to basketball courts, wrestling mats and swimming pools, we can take away from the fall sports season this — magical moments were made on the Hi-Line this year. Dreams came true and dreams were shattered too.
But as always, the athletes of the fall gave us their all, they gave us plenty to cheer about and gave us plenty to look forward to in the fall of 2011.