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Shrine Game unites Cats and Griz before college journey begins

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As Montana's best football players come together for the annual East-West Shrine game, future Cat and Griz athletes are getting the chance to spend time with their soon-to-be teammates.

"It's awesome, because I get to know them sooner," said future Bobcat linebacker and Glacier High graduate Tadan Gilman. "So, when I get down to Bozeman, I'll already know some guys, and just looking around the locker room, I'll be able to see guys, that RJ's (Fitzgerald) there, somebody like Troy Andersen."

But on the other side of the coin, it means teaming up with guys who will be standing on the opposite sideline when the Cats and Griz square off in November.

"I mean, I've been playing against some of these guys my whole life," said Helena Capital graduate and future Grizzly linebacker Marcus Welnel. "To play against them for however many years I get to play will be fun."

"Two months, they're going to be our rivals, but that's what it is I guess," Polson graduate and soon-to-be Grizzly receiver Matthew Rensvold said. "It'll be good though, fun to play against them. It's fun to play with them now."

"You're teammates right now and you have to have each other's back now, but after the game's over, it's a battle," said future Bobcat linebacker and Dillon graduate RJ Fitzgerald.

And while their focus is on Saturday's Shrine game, these future rivals can't help but throw send some trash talk each other's way when the opportunity presents itself.

"We go back and forth a little bit," said Welnel. "We're never mean about it. We're friends. We say something, they say something back. It's fun."

"A little bit," Gilman said. "Not really on the field. On the field we're teammates and we focus on our jobs, but off the field, we like to give each other crap some times."

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