6-man football co-ops are essential for some teams. This year, there’s some shuffling in Central Montana. Long time co-op members Geraldine and Highwood have gone from Rivals on the same sideline to rivals on opposites sidelines. They were teammates for over a decade and now are forging their own paths.
"It was a good experience, a lot of fruitful things for our kids. Our kids were able to get the opportunity to play the great game of football and continue legacies for both Geraldine and Highwood and a couple state championships along the way,” Highwood head coach Brandon Gondeiro said. “So we're really proud of that legacy. We've been ho hum other than that. We went to football camp. You know, you do the things, same things you always do to try to be successful."
Change is inevitable, with Highwood being alone and Geraldine teaming up with Denton Geyser Stanford, but after one week of play, both teams are holding their own, both coming away with big wins over Shields Valley and Hot Springs. There’s change, but what matters most is opportunity to play. For a lot of the teams, the co-op was all they knew. This year is serving as a new beginning as both teams look to the future with a 1-0 record.
“We've struggled with our first game in the past, so we kind of tried to switch things up, give our guys the best opportunity to be prepared,” DGSG coach Matt Neumann said. “This year was one of our better first games. Granted, there's still a ton to work on, but, you know, we're pretty satisfied with how we played."
DGS has much less travel time this year as well, partnering with Geraldine who’s much closer than Winnett and Grass Range. Neumann said only one Geraldine athlete has played due to eligibility but the four Geraldine kids will be in the lineup in the next couple weeks and are getting ready to play Noxon.
“Having them allows us to go six on six in practice, bring some different personalities in. We have nine without them and that’s tough. A few of them are pretty vocal. So as far as helping with that, cheering and helping out. Just working to get a little better week by week."
This year is serving as a new beginning as both teams look to the future with a one to no record.
"It's a little change. But, you know, we're looking forward to trying to do what we can and moving forward,” Highwood senior Bryson Bahnmiller said. “I think if we just focus on every game, every possession, I think we'll be alright. We have a good opportunity. I guess we can see what happens."
The four from Geraldine have gotten right to working mixing with DGS, and so far their recipe for success is working.
"It's different. It's been pretty good and it's been pretty tough,” Geraldine junior Tyler McOmber said. “But I think we can figure that out and fix our mistakes make it a lot easier."
It’s only fitting that Geraldine and Highwood will share a field this year when they play against each other for the first time in a decade on October 7th.