Small-town Montana is taking an unprecedented big step to give a few kids the opportunity to play high school football this fall.

Over the years, Montana and other states have seen two and three schools form co-ops in order to get enough kids to be able to compete as a team, and not just in football. Sometimes these schools are not what you would describe as neighbors, either geographically or even necessarily friendly at times. But they've done what it takes to give their kids the opportunity to compete, which included adding a six-man football classification, one of only a handful of states that had that at the the time.

So, in spite of all the miles in between and the logistics of where to practice and where to play, the Montana High School Association has given the okay to move forward with its first-ever 5-school co-op to form a 6-man team. For various reasons, the schools were reluctant to pursue the plan even with the MHSA approval. But they worked through some objections and are ready to launch the co-op, on a one-year basis at least for now.

Denton, Geyser, Stanford, Grass Range and Winnett agreed to form the co-op. Denton-Geyser-Stanford have been a mainstay in Montana 6-man football ranks, winning the 2015 state 6-Man championship. But even their participation numbers were getting shaky. Adding two more schools in hopes of getting at least a dozen kids is a testament to how low each school’s enrollment is, and the number of football players who will be available this fall. Coaches and staff are anticipating about 10 boys total from Denton, Geyser and Stanford plan to play this coming season. The number for Grass Range and Winnett is being estimated at three.

Gas up the cars, parents! Denton, Geyser and Stanford are each at least 70 miles away from both Grass Range and Winnett, with the longest distance, Geyser to Winnett, being about 115 miles.

Overcome the obstacles, kids, and GO DGSGRW! Or GRWSGD! Or...ah, forget it.

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