BOZEMAN — As the Bozeman Hawks destroyed Great Falls CMR 61-14 in the Class AA state football playoffs on Friday night, their offense is hitting their stride at the right time.
“Our goal is to create some explosive plays early and I think we did that,” said Bozeman offensive coordinator Robert Boyle.
Credit where credit is due, it’s the offensive line that deserves recognition for any potent offense.
“It’s been our O-line, our O-line has been blocking great," said Hawks running back Jess Wattenbarger. "If it wasn’t for them we wouldn't be where we are. They’re really the center of our team. If they didn’t do as well as they do, we wouldn’t be in the position that we are.”
“They’re in the trenches and we get all the glory," said Bozeman quarterback Jordan Jones. "They’re the big dogs that fight for everybody. It all starts with them. They got the line pushing for (Wattenbarger) and then I can go sit back there and pass. I didn’t get rushed at all this week. It’s just a big part of the game, it all starts with them.”
The Hawks have some good skill position players behind that line, starting with Jones, who came into Friday’s game with 14 passing touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 110.
“He’s really talented in both the run and the pass," said Boyle. "We used him a lot in the zone-read game last week and then this week he got a running touchdown on a bootleg, but he can also stand in there and deliver the ball. He’s not afraid to take a shot in there, he’s done a pretty good job with that.”
“Oh gosh, that kid's insane, he’s good," Wattenbarger said. "All of our receivers, too, they’re all insane, so it’s been a lot of fun being back there getting a chance to run the ball a lot and watch Jordan throw these bombs downfield and have them complete is a lot fun.”
Jones and his receivers -- many of whom are seniors, as well -- have a lot history going back since childhood.
“We’ve all been buddies since the first snap of football," said Jones. "Everyone just meshes with this team, it’s all just a big brotherhood.”
One receiver in general has been special this year: Tucker Macbeth. The senior finished the regular season averaging more than 18 yards per catch.
“One thing that’s great about Tucker is we can throw him a quick screen and he’s going to make a positive play for us, and he does a pretty good job in the blocking game for us, too," Boyle said. "I got a lot of faith in that kid."
Wattenbarger has got it done for the Hawks on the ground, averaging almost 5 yards per carry on the season.
“They got to load the box when Jess is doing good, or they’re not going to stop him and then I can just go over the top and do what I do," Jones said. "It really just complements me, I think, having a back like Jess.”
Not to mention this offense has been slowly integrating Montana State commit Kenneth Eiden IV back in after he missed a portion of the season with an injury.
“Kenny is a cheat code, he’s so good," Wattenbarger said. "He blocks great, he runs great, he catches great. As long as we keep him healthy we should be doing pretty good”.
“It’s just like a safety valve for us," said Jones. "It’s nice to have him on the big plays. You saw it (Friday), two touchdowns for us. He’s old reliable for us.”
With all the talent this offense has and scoring 61 points in the first round of the playoffs, there’s still room to improve.
“We still got to keep making strides to get better, we had two turnovers (Friday), or we put the ball on the ground two times, so we got to fix those. And we still had some missed guys, sometimes we’re just one man off, so we just got to fix that," Boyle said. "We got a big challenge this week coming up with Helena High, they’re a really good football team, they’re really physical. I’m excited to see what we can do.”