Montana Football Hall of Fame selects Whitefish’s Szalay for 2019 induction

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Former Whitefish and University of Montana gridiron standout Thatcher Szalay will be inducted into the Montana Football Hall of Fame on March 23 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.

Szalay, a guard/center, went on to play for three NFL teams. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and later joined the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.

Szalay, one of 11 members of the 2019 class, currently teaches math. pre-algebra and physical education and health at Florence-Carlton Middle School in Florence.

Also honored from UM are Scott Gragg, of Silverton, Oregon, who was drafted by the New York Giants in 1995 and enjoyed an 11-year NFL career. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.

And Barry Darrow, a Great Falls C.M. Russell grad, who played one year at Western Montana College before finishing out his collegiate career with the Grizzlies. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1973 and went to the Cleveland Browns in 1975.

Other MTFHOF inductees are:

From Montana State University

n Jon Borchardt, Minneapolis, Minnesota, a member of MSU National Championship team, drafted by Buffalo Bills in 1979, then traded to Seahawks, a 9-year NFL veteran.

n Mike McCleod, born in Bozeman, was a member of the 1976 National Championship team. He was also a co-captain of the 1979 Big Sky Conference championship squad, played five seasons in the CFL with Edmonton, won three Grey Cups, then played for Green Bay Packers.

From Eastern Montana College:

n Paul Champlin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the first black quarterbacks drafted into the NFL by San Francisco 49ers.

From Helena High School:

n Bob “Spud” McCullough, an all-star fullback at the University of Colorado, drafted by Denver Broncos in 1962, where he spent four seasons as an offensive guard, the first with legendary quarterback, Frank Tripucka from Notre Dame

In the Support Category

n Sonny Lubick, Butte native, coached at Butte High, MSU, Washington State, Miami University with Dennis Erickson, and won two national championships with the Hurricanes. He moved to Colorado State, where he was the 15th head football coach from 1993 to 2007. Lubick won or shared six Western Athletic or Mountain West titles, guided the program to nine bowl games and was named National Coach of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1994. CSU Rams Stadium is named after Lubick

n Ken Staninger (deceased), Missoula Sentinel high school, U of Montana, became first big time players agent in Montana. Guy Bingham was one of Staninger’s first clients, current NFL player Colt Anderson was the last before Staninger died. He negotiated contract for QB Mark Rypien after Rypien led the Washington Redskins to Super Bowl XXVI victory in 1991.

Deceased players:

n Milt Popovich, the Butte Bullet, Butte High, U of Montana all- American, drafted by Chicago Cardinals in 1938. He finished his career as a player-coach for the Seattle Bombers.

n Ralph Scott, Hardin High School, WWI veteran, U of Wisconsin all-American, helped start the league that became NFL in 1920 with George “Papa Bear” Halas. Scott played for Bears until 1927, then became head coach of the new franchise in New York, the New York Yankees, where he coached Butte native “Wild Bill” Kelly.

Tickets will go on sale Jan. 1st at all Universal Athletic locations for the MTFHOF induction banquet.

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