So much for an orderly end to the Western AA football season.
Butte’s home loss to Helena Capital last week was less shocking as it was the Bulldogs’ first loss in the league than it was for the final score: 43-3, Bruins.
It was difficult to predict; so would be a season in which Glacier beat Capital, who then beat Butte a week later, after Butte beat Helena 34-20 on September 10 and before Helena gave Glacier a loss. from 48-24 last Friday.
“The West is incredibly competitive,” said Glacier coach Grady Bennett, whose club will start with Butte at 7:30 pm today inside Naranche Stadium. “I think it’s one of the best years in a long time.”
Six teams from the West will make the AA playoffs, and it looks like there are five teams vying for a first-round playoff game, including the undefeated Sentinel.
Flathead, meanwhile, will take on the aforementioned Helena Bengals tonight at Legends Stadium.
Glacier de la Butte
A pair of juniors start Butte’s offense: quarterback Jace Stenson and wide receiver Cameron Gurnsey, whose 45 catches and 608 yards put him within reach of a few school records.
So what happened last Friday? The Bulldogs gave up some big plays, including an 80-yard scoring by Tom Carter to start a 21-point third quarter.
“I think it just shows – and I told the team this to Helena – that the West is always competitive, and every night the team that shows up and performs best, plays best, can do anything. do, ”Bennett said.
The stinging loss doesn’t make Butte any less dangerous, and perhaps will.
“They’ve got a lot of peripheral speed, a lot of athletes,” Bennett said. “Similar to Helena and Sentinel. And Capital. All of these teams are very talented. When you watch the movie, it’s no surprise that the Bulldogs go after Helena.
Butte is expected to have defensive end / tight end Dylan Snyder, who had five sacks before missing the Capitale game with a knee injury. The Bulldogs lost security, however, due to a dislocated shoulder against the Bruins.
Linebackers Keegen Muffich, Luke Anderson and Connor Konda are defensive leaders; Casey Kautzman kicked a 51-yard field goal for Butte.
Glacier’s Jake Rendina continues to lead the West on rushing with 653 yards, although he was limited to 39 last week. The elder played with an ankle injury, and Helena’s game only scored the second time in 14 outings that he had not scored a touchdown.
“He’s definitely not 100%,” Bennett noted. “But he’s a tough kid, a brave kid. We had it checked out and there is nothing structurally wrong with it. But it’s tough – you try to keep him healthy, or shoot him for a game to make him healthier. And he wants to be there to help.
“We’ll see how he feels today and tomorrow.”
Bennett was hoping for a better position on the pitch, which was a problem for Helena, and more saves by a defense led by linebackers Wyatt Thomason and Royce Conklin.
Junior quarterback Gage Sliter continues to have a high passing percentage, and he has Connor Sullivan, Jake Turner, Luke Bilau and Tate Kauffman to throw.
It was Turner who scored all of the Wolfpack’s touchdowns last week.
“Jake Turner was just fantastic,” Bennett said. “And Connor Sullivan took a bullet in the knee and I was scared to death for him. He limped his way through the game and made games, played very well. One night when we obviously struggled a bit, these two played extremely well.
Helena in Flathead
The Bengals come to town with a nice rebound victory over Glacier, mostly on the arms and legs of Kaden Huot.
“Another very good quarterback is coming to town,” said Flathead coach Alex Cummings. “He is hard.”
Huot and linebacker / running back Marcus Evans are commits of the Montana Grizzlies, and Helena is also very talented. Flathead, looking for his first win, had moments against Missoula Sentinel in a 54-0 loss.
Dylan Zink forced a pair of fumbles and Kayden Berkey had a sack and a forced fumble and recovered. The running back races have gone to Joe Jones, but Cummings will be hopeful that Trevor Burke and Kaden Henshaw consolidate things there.
“I would really like to take them forward,” he said. “Henshaw was out last week with that hamstring. It would be nice to have those three back in the game.
Quarterback Jackson Walker continues to have good times amid a inconsistent attack. Brody Thornsberry was the main receiving target.
“Jackson is making good plays on his feet,” Cummings said. “The biggest challenge is up front, protecting it. We have a good group of athletes at the catcher. We have to do a good job of protecting and Jackson has to deliver the ball.
Among the problems against Sentinel was the punt team: the Spartans blocked a punt for a touchdown and the Braves couldn’t get out of their own end of the field.
“Go back the pitch, take care of the football, force the turnovers,” Cummings said. “And we have to tackle better. Against a tough football team we need to be able to do these things this week. “