“Battle of the Rock” rivalry is born

Thursday, October 7, 2021
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From the left: Columbus Football Coach Blake Hoge, Columbus Co-captains Matt Ivankovich and Caden Meier, the “Battle of the Rock” trophy, and Big Timber players, including Coach JV Moody.

It was an idea that came together very quickly.

Big Timber High School Head Football Coach JV Moody thought it would be fun to start a friendly football rivalry between Big Timber and Columbus.

With the Sibanye-Stillwater mining company being located in both counties, Moody approached the company early last week with the idea of making some sort of trophy.

Sibanye-Stillwater loved the idea and immediately jumped on board.

Just days after Moody’s call to the mine came the actual presentation of that trophy last Friday night in Columbus. And thus, the officially rivalry of the “Battle of the Rocks” was launched. Columbus High School earned the trophy with its Homecoming win over the Herders.


Sibayne-Stillwater’s Marlena Ferguson lives in Big Timber and was the person who fielded Moody’s question. Ferguson contacted the East Boulder Mine Vice President/ GM Bill Kloth and explained the mission. Kloth’s team went to work and within just a fewhours, had a piece of ore from the JM reef that had been selected by East Boulder Chief Geologist Dean Brower.

“The rock type is a troctolite, which consists of PGM-bearing minerals,” said Ferguson.

The next step was getting the approximately 40-pound rock in a condition in which i could be mounted to a base Dan Milton, a BMR mechanic at the Smelter, chiseled it down to about 25 pounds, drilled a rod in the rock to secure it in the base and applied a sealant.

“We had so much fun putting the trophy together. Everyone who had a hand in it stopped what they were doing to make it happen,” said Ferguson.


Sibanye-Stillwater sent two representatives to present the trophy — Shawn Lannen from the East Boulder Mine site, and Brent Nelson from Stillwater Mine site.

Not only did the mine want to make the trophy, it wanted to add something extra — a $500 donation to a local charity of the winning team’s choice.

Columbus chose the Columbus Community Foundation and Big Timber chose the Sweet Grass Community Foundation.

Columbus High School Head Football Coach Blake Hoge said Columbus decided to match the mine’s donation, which means $1,000 for the Columbus Community Foundation.

“We’re hoping to grow the good-natured enmity a little and keep supporting those local charities that make a difference in our towns,” said Hoge.