The labor is not over for the linemen on the winning team once a verdict has been reached in the annual regular-season finale played between the University of Montana and Montana State.
Several of said linemen have the task of carrying around the trophy in celebration. They are not dealing with a wooden ax or even a 98-pound bronzed pig.
The series dates to 1897 and has been fierce, yet in 2001, an hombre named Dave Samuelson decided the game needed even more, and designed the “Great Divide Trophy.” This bronze monstrosity displays both a bobcat and a grizzly climbing toward a football and weighs several hundred pounds.
“I’m not sure exactly what it weighs, but it has handles and you get a few of us big fellows with a hold on it,” Lewis Kidd said. “It’s tremendous fun carrying it around with your fans going crazy.”
Kidd is a 6-foot-6, 315-pound redshirt junior and offensive tackle for Montana State. He worked the handles in his home stadium on Nov. 23, after a 48-14 victory that gave the Bobcats a four-game winning streak vs. Montana for the first time in four decades.
Not so long ago, Montana State fans were suffering through “The Streak” — 16 victories in a row for Montana from 1986 through 2001.
Kidd was a two-way lineman at Totino-Grace. In his senior season, he was part of the Eagles’ first victory ever over Eden Prairie, 27-13 in the Class 6A quarterfinals.
You don’t compare high school and college victories, you just enjoy them.
“Beating Eden Prairie was one of my greatest feelings on a football field,” Kidd said. “And so is beating Montana. I’m 4-0 so far against Montana, if you give me credit for being a redshirt freshman in 2016.”
The emotions can’t be greater but the task certainly is that on Saturday, when Montana State visits the Fargodome for a 1 p.m. kickoff against North Dakota State.
The Bison have won the past two FCS championships and seven of the past eight. They have a 35-game winning streak, dating to a regular-season loss to South Dakota State on Nov. 4, 2017. They are 26-1 in Fargodome playoff games, with the only loss to 2016 champion James Madison in the semifinals.
A year ago, Montana State visited Fargo for a second-round matchup.
“It was a little bit of a bloodbath,” said Kidd, with a slight laugh.
Final: Bison 52, Bobcats 10, with NDSU rushing for 407 yards.
“That was a well-oiled machine,” Kidd said. “We’re better. Hopefully, they aren’t.”
Kidd attracted moderate interest from Division I schools: South Dakota, New Mexico and Montana, where assistant Ty Gregorak was the recruiter.
Kidd was sold on becoming a Grizzly, and then Jeff Choate was hired as Montana State coach on Dec. 4, 2015, and he hired Gregorak as defensive coordinator 11 days later.
Gregorak called Kidd and said, “Why don’t you come with me to Montana State?”
Kidd did that, choosing the state school in Bozeman over the state school 200 miles away in Missoula.
Thus, Lewis Kidd did not become a Grizzly, although he certainly has spent the past three years doing his best impersonation of one.
A Twin Cities reporter was on the cell with Kidd and didn’t sugarcoat the question: “What’s with the hair?”
Kidd laughed (again) and said: “No better place for being outdoors than Montana, and there are a lot of burly guys in flannel shirts walking around with very long hair.
“I was here for a year and decided to adopt the look, and it kind of developed. It’s been three years since I had as much as a trim. The road crowds yell at me some, but it’s all fun.”
Montana State gashed Montana for 382 yards rushing, with 173 from Isaiah Ifanse, last month. The Bobcats have rushed for 3,783 yards in an 11-3 season (including an opening loss to Texas Tech).
Kidd has been a potent blocker, primarily at right tackle. His father, Tyrone, is a railroad worker and is stuck at work some football weekends. His mother, Sue Anne, doesn’t miss games, even though she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. She’s now in remission.
“Mom is tough,” Kidd said. “She would have chemo during the week, and then fly to Bozeman for my games.”
Motherly love for Lewis, the youngest of four children, is such that Sue Anne even gives him a pass on the hair — to a point.
“I’m fine with Lewis’ hair, until he puts it in a bun,” Sue Anne said, laughing. “The bun is a bit much for me.”
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