BIGFORK — Ethan Abbott knew nothing about the rivalries in the Western B football division.
A recent transfer from Maryland, Abbott is quickly learning what western Montana fans have known for quite some time.
“It’s amazing, awesome. This is my first year at Florence, I transferred from out of state, and I love these guys so much,” said Abbott. “I knew nothing about these rivalries, I’m new to it. (My teammates) are filling me in and I’m just going out there and playing my football.”
Abbott, a 6-foot-4 and 275-pound junior, was a key cog on the Florence offensive and defensive lines last week as the Falcons pulled away from Bigfork late, 33-14, in a marquee Western B tilt. Abbott had two key tackles-for-loss and drew attention from the Vikings’ offensive line, which managed 294 rushing yards, 217 from Cormac Benn, but found the end zone only twice.
“We couldn’t have done it without everybody, it was a fight from everybody. We came out hard and that’s what we have to do, come out hard and punch them in the mouth,” said Abbott. “It’s a team effort. Everybody on both sides of the ball. If I take a double team, that leaves somebody else open to make a tackle, and I trust my brothers enough to make that tackle and be there on the ball.”
“Our rush defense is really good. I put all my trust in them, as a quarterback, to go out, make a play, get us the ball back so we can drive and score,” said Pat Duchien Jr., who tossed four touchdowns in the win over Bigfork.
Friday’s was the kind of game necessary to instill confidence in a young quarterback. Duchien, the sophomore son of head coach Pat Duchien Sr., has 900 passing yards and 13 touchdowns through his first four starts, spreading the ball around between favorite targets Levi Posey (16 receptions, 279 yards and three touchdowns), Blake Shoupe (14 receptions, 282 yards and two touchdowns) and Luke Maki (11 receptions, 198 yards and two touchdowns).
“It’s amazing. I can trust everyone to make a play. I can go wherever I want and there’s going to be a play made,” said the younger Duchien.
Florence enters Week 5 with a 3-1 mark, the lone loss a heartbreaking 35-29 overtime defeat against reigning Class B runner-up Manhattan, which figures to be in the running for the state title this fall. The Falcons have an open weekend after Deer Lodge forfeited its season, allowing them to peek ahead to the following Friday, where a trip to state champion Eureka (3-1) awaits.
A win over the Lions would be an impressive notch in the belt, crossing off the second of three big league checkmarks, the third being the regular-season finale at home against Missoula Loyola. Florence has been in the thick of the Western B with Bigfork, Eureka and Loyola, creating a four-way battle royale for bragging rights and postseason seeding that even an out-of-stater can recognize.
“It’s definitely a different culture out here, I love it,” said Abbott. “It’s awesome. There’s no better feeling in the world and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world on a Friday night.”