Billings Gazette Sports Five on Five

1. Aside from Cat-Griz, what’s your favorite college football rivalry game?

John Letasky: I’ll go old school and say Notre Dame vs. Miami from the 1980s.

Jeff Welsch: Without a doubt, Michigan State-Michigan. My 4 year old grandson can’t get enough of “Oh he’s having trouble with the snap – and the ball is free!” on Youtube. The DNA is real. Save up!

Bill Bighaus: Washington vs. Washington State. We were in Pullman for the Apple Cup on November 20, 1982 when the underdogs won Cougars and denied my Huskies a spot in the Rose Bowl. I can still see the goalposts going around the field on a dark, cold day.

Mike Scherting: I enjoy reading about past and current Army-Navy games, even if I don’t watch it all the time. On December 10, look out for Billings West’s Riley Bergeson, No. 38 in the Navy.

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Briar Napier: I feel like I’m legally required to say Missouri-Kansas as a Mizzou alum, but the return of the Backyard Brawl earlier this year proved why it belongs in a high-profile rivalry.

2. Why are Yellowstone County high school volleyball teams traditionally so tough?

John Letasky: It’s a combination of many things: good players and coaches and the support of the community. Also, with all the success in the area, young girls undoubtedly grow up wanting to play volleyball.

Jeff Welsch: Tradition begets tradition. Remarkable to see YelCo teams sweep the AA, A and B, and if you can think of Bridger as a de facto county team with a wink, it was an eyelash off a Grand Slam.

Bill Bighaus: I don’t know. Despite the rotation of legendary coaches and players over the years, Billings Sr., Billings West, Bridger and Huntley Project always seem to make headlines. It’s a remarkable series.

Mike Scherting: There have been and still are some veteran coaches who have laid a solid foundation across the county for others to build on, or at least continue. The result is an extremely competitive hotbed.

Briar Napier: It’s a situation where the iron is sharpened: the best make the best better. And that’s been the case around here for a long time.

3. Will there ever be an undefeated team in the NFL again?

John Letasky: Never say never in sports, but it’s probably very unlikely.

Jeff Welsch: Conspiracy theorist that I am, I think the NFL will pull this rabbit out of the hat if and when faced with waning interest in their product.

Bill Bighaus: No. The players and teams are so much better than they were 50 years ago when the Dolphins were. There really is no fuss these days.

Mike Scherting: Not with an ever-expanding schedule and those horrible Thursday night mishaps. With Monday games, Thursday games, overseas games, the generic schedule is just too tough.

Briar Napier: In a 32-team league that is showing signs of expansion, I find it difficult to imagine that. Every franchise is so good you can’t have a week off.

4. Do you watch a lot of NFL football on Thanksgiving?

John Letasky: Not really. It used to be like that, but now, even when the games are on, I feel like I’m visiting people and not paying attention.

Jeff Welsch: Once upon a time, my lovely losers Detroit Lions were a must-watch on Thanksgiving Day. A turkey before the turkey, you might say. Now the edible turkey flies solo.

Bill Bighaus: Not so much anymore. However, I enjoyed it years ago, especially when John Madden presented his Turkey Leg Award.

Mike Scherting: Probably more than I care to admit, although Green Bay games on TV are always a must.

Briar Napier: Yes, in three phases – the first plate game with the Lions, the couch nap during the afternoon game and the nightcap during the eating coma.

5. What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

John Letasky: The turkey, stuffing, and potatoes are great, but the camaraderie is the best.

Jeff Welsch: As he carves the turkey, before everyone sits down, eat small slices of piping-hot white meat that “accidentally” fell into the savory juice at the bottom of the pan. Someone has to be the taste tester.

Bill Bighaus: I like everything, but a big slice of pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream is my favorite part.

Mike Scherting: You know, it might just be the leftover cold turkey. But every year I go less and less to the traditional food. Brisket, anyone? Thai maybe?

Briar Napier: The mashed potatoes, 100%. Growing up I was picky, so I always had plates of buns made to my grandma’s recipe and that was it. Death from carbohydrates, yes please.


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