Billings Outlaws set for Thursday exhibition at Metra

BILLINGS — The Billings Outlaws are ready to have some fun.

And the good times started at practice on Tuesday at Stewart Park when a handful of kids and the Outlaws cheerleaders attended the later part of the day’s workouts.

The young fans at the open practice were able to meet the Outlaws players and participate in drills with the team.

Billings Outlaws Tuesday practice

Members of the Billings Outlaws Arena Football League team pose with a couple of young fans during the team’s practice on Tuesday at Stewart Park. 

The cheerleaders even got in on the fun as they also ran through some of the drills, did a little cheering and watched at Outlaws players used their blue and silver pom-poms and performed impromptu cheers.

Head coach Cedric Walker, who was pretty businesslike through the majority of practice, even got in on the fun and cracked a smile and offered encouragement to the young fans and cheerleaders as they ran through drills. Walker even had a little fun by mockingly participating in some drills and falling to the ground and rolling around.

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Team cheerleaders and young fans participated in the Billings Outlaws Tuesday practice.

John Letasky

“Actually just more of us enjoying the kids and making sure we are about to enjoy a good season and us wanting everyone to be a part of it,” Walker said after the approximately two-hour practice had concluded with plenty of laughs and smiles. “It’s good to have the cheerleaders out here showing support.”

Walker said the Outlaws posted through social media that the practice was open to the public as the team — which plays a non-league exhibition on Thursday against the Denver Sharks at 6 p.m. at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark — wants to be a part of the community.

The first-year coach of the Outlaws said the franchise’s motto has become “Our town, our team.”

“To be accessible to the people of Billings,” said Walker of an ambition of the Outlaws’ franchise. “I want the guys to enjoy their time here and not just be here to play ball. I want the community to embrace them as well.”

Training camp started for the Outlaws on April 1 and 30 players are vying for a spot on the 25-man roster. Final cuts will be made after the contest against the Sharks.

“After a long camp, I wanted the guys to enjoy here and to be able to be out and about and let kids talk to them and meet them,” Walker said. “I wanted the kids to have the same experience these guys had as well.”

Billings will be a member of the new Arena Football League this year. Walker said AFL rules will be in play against the Sharks, including the catch nets, which will be in both end zones from one side to the other.

Billings Outlaws practice on Tuesday

Members of the Billings Outlaws, holding cheerleading pom-poms, huddle before performing an impromptu cheer near the end of practice on Tuesday at Stewart Park. 

Walker said the addition of the nets will enhance the game and add an entertaining factor the Billings fans aren’t used to as the Outlaws played in the Champions Indoor Football league the past two seasons.

“The catch nets are part of the game,” Walker said. “You can catch balls off the net and throw it off the net and kick it off the nets.”

“Once you see it and see the ball off the net and guys returning it, it will be different (than Billings fans have previously seen at the Metra).”

Walker said he didn’t know a bunch about the Sharks but was expecting a good exhibition contest as Outlaws players fight for a spot on the roster and for starting positions.

“I just know they are a team from Colorado,” he said. “I’ve talked to their coaches and they are good men.

“We are going to go out there and our goal every game is to win. Our guys are still in the process of making the team. We need to make sure of our attention to detail and the guys are doing it with the right technique.”

Billings’ first official AFL game is Saturday, April 27, when it hosts the Wichita (Kansas) Regulators at 6 p.m. at Metra.

And up until that time the Outlaws will be preparing for the Regulators.

Billings Outlaws Tuesday practice

Billings Outlaws coach Cedric Walker and one of the team’s players visit with a young fan on Tuesday at Stewart Park. Approximately 10 to 12 kids attended practice on Tuesday. 

“We’ve got to scout and make the right decisions,” Walker said of the exhibition game on Thursday. “After the game is final cuts and it is for real on April 27.”

The fun is about ready to start for the Outlaws and they’re hoping the fans are a big part of it.

“Come watch and it’s a start of a long journey,” Walker said. “It’s a long, quick journey. We have 10 weeks. It’s a sprint. We have to make sure these guys understand their roles and attention to detail.”

Email Gazette Sports Editor John Letasky at [email protected] or follow him on X/Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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