DILLON -- It was around noon on Tuesday when the sound of firetruck sirens pierced the air in Dillon. The fences at Parkview Elementary School and Dillon Middle School were lined with students as the bright red vehicles rolled toward the eager viewers.
But instead of carrying firefighters, the trucks held the 2016 Dillon football team, which over the weekend won the Class A state championship title.
“It’s just something that our kids have come to expect,” said Greg Fitzgerald, the principal at Parkview Elementary School. “In fact, one of the teachers told me two weeks ago one of the kids asked when the parade was for the fire trucks. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast here. Our kids have been so successful, it’s just a special time for these kids.”
The Dillon Beavers defeated the Columbia Falls Wildcats 34-17 this past Saturday to reclaim the Class A crown. Senior quarterback Troy Andersen led the team with 23 carries for 92 yards and was 7-for-16 on passing for 120 yards. Gabe Hupp had two receptions for 46 yards.
The victory was Dillon’s eighth state title since 2000, and it’s fourth in the last six seasons. Dillon has had three runner-up finishes and made the championship game the last six seasons.
Leading the unstoppable Beavers is coach Rick Nordahl. One of the keys to the team’s success was its stacked senior class.
“They got along great,” Nordahl said. “The senior leadership, with as many seniors as we had, was outstanding. It was like having a lot of coaches on the field. Especially for me having a son on the team, being around these boys for so many years, they were really really close.”
This was the second state title for Andersen. Next fall, Andersen will still wear a blue and gold uniform, but it will be in Bozeman as a Montana State University Bobcat.
Andersen said it was a good feeling to cap off his senior season with a title.
“It felt great,” he said. “The whole year it’s what you’ve been working for. Honestly, your whole life you’ve kind of been dreaming about that. So it just felt great when you finally accomplished your goals and got it done.”
The weekend victory was even sweeter for Dillon because it was redemption for a regular season loss. During its first meeting in September, the Wildcats defeated the Beavers 28-21. It was the only loss of the Beavers 2016 season.
When the clock finally hit zero on Nov. 19, the celebrations began.
“We were excited,” said senior R.J. Fitzgerald, who had 15 carries for 74 yards during the championship game. “We put a lot of time in over the summer and throughout our four years of high school. It finally paid off.”