MISSOULA — While the Brawl of the Wild holds significance to everyone involved, it means even more to a few Montana Grizzly players who are originally from Bozeman and will be making their way home this Saturday to play Montana State — but without the usual warm welcome.
"It’s special to get to go home and to get to play the home team but it’s different," said Bozeman native and Griz redshirt sophomore Kris Brown. "I’m not used to going back to Bozeman and not being accepted, not being the good guys like it was in high school."
Even though he might be returning home for the first time in his collegiate career, Brown knows at the end of the day it’s just another game.
'It’s no different than any other road game in the sense that you've just got to keep your head down and do your job," said Brown. "But at the same time it’s a huge game and you want to go in there and do your best."
Fellow teammate and former Bozeman Hawk Ryan Simpson knows that while his friends and family from home are excited, it might be for a different reason.
"It’s a great feeling. It’s obvious what side they’re going for. I’ve already heard it for a couple weeks now, everyone’s ready for it," said Simpson. "But I love being here so it’s a great feeling honestly."
And after connecting with Brown through the air 65 times for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns their senior year at Bozeman, Simpson is grateful that the duo wound up with the Griz together.
"Great chemistry in high school, so being able to expand on that here and both of us definitely getting bigger, stronger, and improving our game here," said Simpson. "It’s definitely better than high school, so I love it."
The two former Hawks, now Griz, will be looking to play the role of hometown villains as the Griz kickoff against the Cats in Bozeman on Saturday at noon.