Twenty years ago, the Montana Grizzlies entered the 2001 football season with unfinished business following an appearance in the national title game the year before.
Led by an unrelenting defense and a multi-faceted offensive attack, the Grizzlies returned to Chattanooga that season and finished what they had started with a 13-6 win over Furman to claim the school’s second national championship, becoming Montana legends in the process.
Following the game, cornerback Johnnie Peeples summed it up best when he said, “This is what it’s all about. Family and people coming together for this game, and winning like that was a total team effort.”
Now, to celebrate their 20th anniversary, the 2001 National Champion Grizzlies are once again coming together to celebrate that legacy and to put in another total team effort that will impact the lives and careers of future Grizzlies for generations to come.
Led by former head coach Joe Glenn, the 2001 Griz are set to make their triumphant return to Missoula for a team reunion on Oct. 15 and an on-field celebration the following day when Montana hosts Sacramento State in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Not only that, the 2001 Grizzlies are seeking to cement their UM legacy forever with a fundraising effort underway to raise enough to benefit the program for years to come.
With the money they raise the team will endow a scholarship in memory of three players from that squad, Tim Bush, Curt Colter, and Herb Fernandez, that the world lost too soon. They will also support the ongoing facility improvements for Grizzly Athletics and the football program.
“We have two great opportunities for us to give back to the school that gave us so much,” said former linebacker Dan Orizotti, who is spearheading the team reunion and the fundraising effort.
“We’re reaching out to all the guys on the team to get them back to Missoula and see all the significant improvements that have happened because some haven’t been back since they were on the field.
“It’s been fantastic just to pick up the phone and reach out to the guys. It seems like our conversations just pick up where they left off. I always gauge that as a true testament to the amazing bond we built, what we went through as a team, and what we accomplished.”
To aid in this effort, the Grizzly Scholarship Association has set up a website where members of the team, friends and family, or even fans who want to help out can make their gifts.
To donate or to learn more about the fundraising efforts, visit www.upwithmontana.com/2001nationalchampions.
If you were a player or coach on the team and have not heard from us, please contact Jared Amoss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-243-5405 for more information about the event. Players can also contact Orizotti at email@example.com or 406-647-1813.
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