BUTTE — Fairfield’s Ryder Meyer scored twice in his final high school football game.
The second one he’ll remember for many, many years to come.
The University of Montana commit hauled in at 39-yard bomb from Fergus High’s Mitch Norslien to seal the deal Saturday night as the East squad came away with a 28-22 win over the West in the 73rd annual Montana East-West Shrine Game at Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field inside the Alumni Coliseum.
Norslien, who will play at Tech this fall, threw three scoring passes and was named the overall MVP of the game. East head coach Les Meyer of Fairfield spoke fondly of the friendship between his son Ryder and the Golden Eagles’ quarterback, and the long pass that came with 6:40 left in the contest.
“That touchdown gave us a bit of breathing room there,” the elder Meyer said of the clinching score. “I’m happy for (Ryder). It’s really tough being a coach’s kid; there’s always pressure on him and he came through.
“And I’m happy for Mitch as well. Him and Ryder have been friends since seventh grade; they’ve played a lot of 7-on-7 games together. It was a special moment for both of them.”
Fairfield’s Derek Simmons pulled in a short pass from Norslien in the first quarter with East down by six and did the rest on his own, scampering 44 yards to put the East up 7-6 after the PAT by Shelby’s Wyatt Brusven.
“That ended up being a big play for us,” Coach Meyer added. “They had the right read on the route, Mitch hit him with the short toss and Derek did the rest.”
Simmons, who caught an 11-yard toss from Norslien in the third stanza, came away with the Offensive MVP for the East, while linebacker JJ Lindsay of Billings West took home Defensive MVP honors.
“The defense held things together for us and gave us plenty of chances and opportunities,” Meyer said. “They had us pinned back against our own goal line a few times because of penalties, but our defense came through and kept us in the game.”
Ryder Meyer’s first TD came late in the first half on a nine-yard romp from scrimmage while he was at quarterback, giving the East a 14-6 lead going into the locker room. The score was set up when the younger Meyer hit Fairfield teammate Dawson Allen to get the ball inside the 10-yard line.
“He had really good protection,” the coach said of Ryder, “and he threw a fade to Dawson. He got in inside the 10 and set the score up on the next play.”
Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt had a short yardage run in the first and threw at four-yard pass to Columbia Falls standout RB Colten McPhee in the fourth. Flathead’s Blake Counts added an 11-yard romp in the third, and Whitefish kicker Carver Gilman’s 41-yard field goal in the fourth capped the scoring.
The East holds a 41-32 advantage in the overall series that dates back to 1947. Proceeds from the game go to support the Spokane Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
Thanks to our friends at the Great Falls Tribune for letting us share this story with our readers.