The coaching staff is in place for this fall’s Drummond-Philipsburg eight-man football team, as well as what Drummond and Granite high schools will call their new cooperative program.
Jim Oberweiser, the veteran head football coach at Drummond, will serve in the same position for the Flint Creek Titans when the co-op begins its first year of competition next school year.
The two schools shied away having the co-op take the name of one of the respective existing programs for fear of slighting one or both of the natural rival towns that are separated by about 26 miles. Flint Creek, which runs from the mountains of Flint Creek Range near Philipsburg north toward Drummond before spilling into the Clark Fork River, allowed for a shared commonality.
“Still a little bit of both, but we have that tie geographically to our area that we share,” said Oberweiser, who completed his 32nd football season with Drummond last fall.
Oberweiser’s coaching staff will include a mesh of the previous two staffs at Drummond and Philipsburg. Mike Cutler, the Prospectors’ head coach last season and the high school’s principal, will continue coaching in the co-op, along with his former assistant Walter Stanghill. Drummond assistant JC Holland will also continue his involvement in that position.
“Oh yeah, his experience and his record speaks for itself,” said Cutler, a Philipsburg native, of deferring to Oberweiser on the head position. “It had to be that way.”
Instead of adopting either of schools’ colors – Drummond’s blue and white or Granite’s maroon and gold – the football team will go again with new arrangements and wear silver and black.
“There were times we discussed a little bit of both (our colors) to maintain some tradition but that was out-voted to help make the clean break,” Oberweiser said.
The two school boards voted last fall to create a football-only cooperative starting in the fall of 2014 and filed their petition to the Montana High School Association for a combined football program citing decreasing enrollment at both institutions. The co-op was approved for a three-year period, allowing Drummond and Granite high schools to continue competing at the 8-man level for football rather than dropping to 6-man individually within the Class C ranks.
The Titans will play in the 8-man Western Division, the same league in which both schools competed individually up until last year when Drummond finished 6-2 and made the state playoffs and Philipsburg was 2-6.
Flint Creek’s first on-field action will come in the second week of June when the schools’ players will attend a Montana Tech summer camp in Butte. Official games begin August 29.
Drummond won five state championships at the 8-man level since 2003, all coming under Oberweiser. Granite County’s only title game appearance came in 1979, a loss.