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Small Town Football Highlighted In Western Heritage Center Exhibit

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Credit Morgan Tyree
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Fall is high school football season. And it is the perfect season for a new photo exhibit at the Western Heritage Center in Billings displaying a Wyoming man’s fascination with small town football.

It all started with an invitation.

Morgan Tyree
Morgan Tyree

Morgan Tyree’s colleague invited him to her son’s high school football game in a small town in Wyoming.

He just happened to take his camera. That experience began Tyree’s twenty-year love affair with 6-man and 8-man football.

“I see this really as an opportunity to document Americana through the lens of high school football,” says Tyree. “That’s the way I see it.”

Tyree is not a sports photographer—he is an assistant professor of Graphic Arts at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. However, each fall he has driven the two-lane highways across Montana and Wyoming, at his own expense, capturing the “Friday night lights” of rural America through his camera lens.

“The community shuts down each early for a Friday night game and the community comes out to support their boys,” says Jim Goltz, the middle school and high school principal in Bridger, Montana.

Not that long ago Goltz was coaching in Custer, Fromberg and Medicine Lake—watching from the sidelines on the impact of high school football on a small town.

“It means everything to the community,” Goltz says.  “It’s not only their son that they’re watching; it’s their neighbor, their cousin, nephew. Everybody comes out and supports them.”

Tyree agrees.

“If you want to meet someone in a town, go to one of their high school football games, Tyree says. “ You’re probably going to run into that person.”

The end of August starts football season in Montana and Wyoming, and Tyree has his first three weeks planned out with trips to Tongue River, Dayton, Shoshoni and Lodge Grass

”I kind of see myself always doing this,” Tyree adds.

His exhibit, The Biggest Game in a Small Town: Photographs of High School Football in Montana and Wyoming will be on display at the Western Heritage Center through December 30, 2017.

Morgan Tyree /
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Morgan Tyree /
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Copyright 2017 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.