BUTTE — Arie Grey recognizes the caliber of opponent that will head to Naranche Stadium on Thursday.
"How exciting to get to have the defending state champions coming to our stadium," Grey said on Tuesday. "A team that plays good football and plays the game the way it's meant to be played."
The Bulldogs, who locked up a home playoff game with a win over Missoula Hellgate last week, will close out the regular season against reigning Class AA champion Missoula Sentinel for Butte's Senior Night game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The unbeaten Spartans (7-0 overall, 5-0 in the Western AA) haven't surrendered a point since a 27-6 win over Helena on September 24. Sentinel has beaten its past three opponents by a combined score of 121-0.
All three phases of Butte's game will need to be at their absolute best to have a chance of shocking the Spartans.
"Defensively, they're fast, physical, in your face," Grey said of Sentinel. And they use a lot of smoke and mirrors. What a great opportunity for us and I think our kids are excited."
Butte (6-2, 5-1) has won its last two games. Against Kalispell Glacier two weeks ago, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 14-6 at halftime. Butte's offense sparked to life in the second half and junior quarterback Jace Stenson scored two touchdowns to help the Bulldogs pull out the win and avoid dropping back-to-back games a week after being routed by Helena Capital.
"There were some words going on at halftime," Stenson said. "We had to pick up the team and it started with me in the first half. I wasn't doing great and it started with me so I had to get the team going."
Stenson knows that the Spartans are going to deliver Butte it's biggest challenge of the season so far. But he has complete faith in his team
"They're gonna be a good challenge for us," Stenson said. I trust everyone of these guys out here. Trust the coaches, everything."
Stenson has thrown for 1508 yards and 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He's added 218 yards on the ground and three rushing scores. His primary targets have been Dylan Snyder (483 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) and Cameron Gurnsey (726 yards, three touchdowns).
Gavin Vetter has been Butte's most productive running back, churning out 487 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
With a playoff spot already secured, Thursday's game will be a tune-up for the postseason and a sendoff for Butte's Class of 2022 players.
"It's definitely going to be a fun night with the crowd and honoring our seniors," Grey said. "This is their last home regular season game. Gives them an opportunity to be honored in front of their fans, which they deserve."