Purcell named Badlands Bowl head coach


Troy Purcell, of Bozeman, has been chosen to be the head coach of the Montana all-stars for the 21st annual Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl.

Joining Purcell on the coaching staff will be Levi Wesche (Bozeman), Mike Ludwig (Laurel), Jason Christenson (Havre), Clint Layng (Boulder) and Jay Fredrickson (Ennis).

"It's quite an honor to be one of the coaches to represent Montana," Purcell said. "And it's quite an honor to pick the kids from Montana. It's going to be a hard process to pick the right kids. That's the most difficult process of the whole game."

This will be the first time Purcell has served as head coach for Montana. He was an assistant coach in 2004. This will be the first time coaching in the Badlands Bowl for each of the other coaches.

Purcell and Wesche led Bozeman to a dominant 14-0 record this season, claiming the school's second Class AA state championship in the last four seasons. This season, the Hawks outscored their opponents 49-15 on average.

Ludwig has built a strong program at Laurel. This last season, the Locomotives finished 7-4, with two of their losses coming at the hands of eventual state champion Dillon. Laurel beat Lewistown 48-0 in the first round of the Class A playoffs before falling to Dillon 54-27 in the quarterfinals.

Christenson led Havre to a 5-5-1 record this season and reached the quarterfinals after beating Miles City 21-20 in the first round of the Class A playoffs. 

Christenson was the defensive coordinator for Purcell when Purcell was the head coach in Havre. They won the Class A state championship in 2004 and lost to Ludwig and the Laurel Locomotives in the 2002 state championship.

Layng led the Panthers to a 10-2 record this season after going 4-4 in each of his first two seasons there. The Panthers beat Plentywood and Choteau in the Class B playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Missoula Loyola in the semifinals.

After two strong seasons, the Ennis Mustangs broke through this year with their first state championship since 1982. The Mustangs went 14-0 this season for Fredrickson, beating Wibaux 68-56 in the state championship game. They outscored their opponents 52-12 on average this season.

The 21st Annual Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl will be held in Dickinson, N.D., on June 21. Montana leads the series with North Dakota 15-5, and beat the North Dakota all-stars 43-29 last year in Miles City.