HISTORY of the GAME
History of the Montana East-West Shrine Game
who presented the first game on August 24, 1947, didn't have the
slightest inkling that what they had started would turn out to
be the "granddaddy of 'em all." But that is what happened.
It is one of the oldest games of its kind-the Montana East-West
Shrine Game is the longest continuous Shrine game in the U.S.
The game began 68
years ago when the "Big Red" of the West defeated the "Golden
East" by a 33-13 margin with Missoula's Tommy Kingsford
fancy-footing for the West. The colors of the uniforms had
been selected by the original Game Committee - red trimmed with
gold for the West , and gold trimmed with red for the East - and
these colors have been maintained to this day.
After the first game was presented, under almost insurmountable
odds and on a "break even" basis, the coaches urged that the
Committee make the contest an annual project. The
Committee agreed and the game was incorporated by the late Roger
Silvernale, the game's founder and first chairman.
didn't solve the myriad of problems that the game faced on the
pitfall-laden road into the future. But it welded the
determination of the game's pioneers who fostered the
determination and desire during even the darkest hours.
standpoint of the contest itself, the game was on a pretty even
basis for the first few years, but in the early 1960's the West
began to dominate play. The East battled back and the
record now stands at East 37, West 30.
Over the years the game rosters have read like a "Who's Who" of
Montana football. Great Falls' Joe Cloidt, who became an
All-American for the Washington Huskies, starred in the first
game. Dick Gregory, former Billings flash, scored the
East's lone touchdown in the second game while Gene Carlson,
former coach at the University of Montana, and Bob Yurko, a
Great Falls pharmacist, starred in Game No. 3.
Big Ed Kalafat, cage star for the Minnesota Gophers and later
the Lakers pro club, was a 1950 selection from Anaconda and Tom
Parac of Lewiston, former athletic director of the Montana State
Bobcats, also was selected.
Butte's Jack Killingstad ran 90 yards for what he thought was a
touchdown during the 1951 game, only to have it erased by an
offside penalty. Butte's Jim Janhunen and Fort Benton's
Moe Embleton appeared in the 1952 edition. With each
passing year the crowds grow bigger and the total donation to
the hospitals increased.
Pat Monno of Anaconda scored three touchdowns in the 1953 game
for 18 points - the most scored by an individual in the game's
history. This mark was later tied by Helena's burly Bob
McCullough in 1958; Billing's West's Ken Hustad in 1968; and
Jody Farmer of Libby in 1986.
A star of the
1991 game was Dave Dickenson from CMR, who later became an
All-American Quarterback for the Montana Grizzlies and an MVP in
the Canadian Football League in 2000. Future Montana
Grizzlies and NFL stars Colt Anderson (Butte/Philadelphia
Eagles/Indianapolis Colts) and Kroy Biermann (Hardin/Altanta
Falcons) played in the 2004 game.
All Pros Marc Mariani (Havre/Tennessee Titans/Chicago Bears)
2005 and Dan Carpenter (Helena/Buffalo Bills) 2004 participated
in the game as well as Bobcat All-American Dane Fletcher
(Bozeman/New England Patriots/Tampa Bay Buccanneers) 2005. The
list goes on.
In the 2006 game, Andrew Selle of billings West and Matt Komac
from Helena High staged a quarterback dual that tied a record
for combined points scored (76).
In 2007, Clark
Cranford from Huntley Project capped a fourth quarter comeback
for the East with a game-winning touchdown late in the game.
It was in 1956 that Roger Silvernale, the man who planted the
seed for the classic and nurtured it to maturity, turned over
the reins to Leroy (Chink) Seymour who had worked on the contest
from its beginning.
In 1961 the game's founder died and , in his name and in his
honor, two fine young athlete's will be named for the the "Roger
Silvernale Memorial Award." The award established in 1965
is awarded to the contest's outstanding performers.
The following were chairman and co-chairman: E.F. Gianotti
(1964); Bill Loney, Pat Goodover (1970); Bill
Loney, Louis Rivera (1974); Bill Loney, Jerry Evans
(1987); Dudley James, Jerry Evans (1989); Jerry
Evans; Don Bisgard (1990); Jerry Evans (1993);
Ev Joslyn; Jerry Evans (1999-2007); Dale Gorman
(2009); AE "Turtle" Johnson (2010); Dennis Lindsay
(2011); Bill Thomas (2012); AE "Turtle" Johnson (2013);
Paul Lechner (2014)
This year will
be the 69th Annual Montana East-West Shrine Game - may it last
forever! The game has reached maturity without the loss of
dedication by the countless, nameless people who share in making
it a success. Over one million dollars has been donated to
the Spokane Shrine Hospital.
And thanks to
the young stars, coaches and officials - some of whom drive
hundreds of miles for the honor of donating their services - the
brilliance of the presentation has not diminished one iota from
the "Good Old Days."
"Over 70 Years of Excellence"
Strong Legs Run, So Weak Legs May Walk