Keg Bowl fun closes out 2022


January 5, 2023

Jennifer Curran

Ray Buchanan, an assistant coach for the Blue Hawks, holds on to the ball as he escapes a tackle by senior Elijah Ratliff.

Friends, families and former football cronies joined together for some good ol' Montana football fun at the 41st annual Keg Bowl last Saturday. The ice-crusted snow covering the field was rugged but didn't deter the tough players. It was an atmosphere filled with good cheer, grilled food, wood smoke and camaraderie.

The game began with quarterbacks Trey Fisher for "The Silver Bullets" and Kade Van Elswyk for "The Young Bloods" picking teams. Each team had seven players, mostly young guys who were former Blue Hawk football players. For some it was their first Keg Bowl and for others their second or third time playing. The eldest player was Don Warren, nicknamed "Fire Station." He said it was rough playing with "them young sprouts."

The game is technically flag-football but tackling proved to be hard to resist making it look a little more like rugby. Members of the Gridiron Club and past participants organized the event, with President Doug Willhite keeping the time, Roger Willhite and Scott Pardee refereeing, Mike Allen keeping score and Blue Hawk Coach Jared Koskela playing with the Silver Bullets.

It started out as a challenge navigating through the snow with no team scoring in the first quarter. In the second quarter, snow was flying, the Young Guns gained two touchdowns. Nathan Schraeder made the first with Kade Pardee scoring the extra point. Then Eli Ratiff got a touchdown with Beano Fisher scoring the conversion. The Silver Bullets then came back with a touchdown of their own; Nate Wilhite threw to Wayne Helvey for the touchdown and the extra point attempt failed. Trey Fisher caught an interception with 55 seconds left. The half ended at 15-6, the Young Guns in the lead.

In the third quarter the Young Guns scored two touchdowns with the force of Schraeder for a touchdown and Beano Fisher and Pardee for another. Colton Fowle scored the two extra points with the pass from Pardee. The quarter ended with the Silver Bullets trailing behind 29-6.

The young Guns dominated the fourth with a triple pass from Van Elswyk to Schrader, ending with a touchdown, and making the extra points were Elswyk and Pardee. The last touchdown of the game was a pass to Schraeder from Beano Fisher with Pardee passing it to Schraeder in the end zone for the extra points. The game ended, Young Guns 45 and the Silver Bullets 6.

Jennifer Curran

Keg Bowl participants and organizers gather following the culmination of the 41st community football game.

"The game is always fun, I've coached just about every player," said Koskela. He has played in the Keg Bowl since 2002 and has been the head coach for the Blue Hawks for the last 10 years.

The players who participated were: Trey Fisher, Coach Jared Koskela, RT Brown, Ray Buchanan, Nate Wilhite, Wayne Helvey, Colton Fowle, Don Warren, Kade Pardee, Kade Van Elswyk, Roman Sparks, Nathan Schraeder, Eli Ratliff and Beano Fisher.

"Love to see these guys-- had them as snot-nosed kids-- good to see they made an effort to come out and play," said Allen, who coached Blue Hawk junior high football for 17 years.

Doug Willhite said that it was great to get together to have some fun. He added that the money raised from the event will go to purchasing better equipment for the junior high football program and to help "build our Blue Hawk Nation."


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