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Butte High hosts Helena Capital, looks to avenge last year's playoff loss to Bruins

Posted at 3:59 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 19:50:29-04

BUTTE  — All three phases of Butte's game hummed along in the Bulldogs' 24-0 victory over Missoula Big Sky last week.

The offense churned out enough points to give Butte a comfortable lead. The defense held the Eagles without a single point.

And on special teams, senior kicker Casey Kautzman -- who will certainly be courted by a lengthy list of colleges once he concludes his final high school season -- blasted a school-record 51-yard field goal.

A false start penalty turned what would have been a 46-yard kick into a 51-yard attempt. As soon as the penalty flag was thrown, Kautzman did some quick math and knew he'd be lining up for a shot at a school record.

"I could tell where the ball would be placed and where we'd have to setup," Kautzman said. "I knew that it would be a record."

He rose to the occasion and drilled the kick, etching his name into the record books of a storied program that claimed its first state title 121 years ago.

"That's the thing about Casey is he's put in the work," said Butte coach Arie Grey. "He understands the importance of the kicking game. Kickers are unbelievable athletes and unbelievable teammates because they want to give back more than anybody else."

The kick also provided Kautzman a measure of atonement for a pair of missed kicks against Helena Capital in Butte's first-round playoff loss to the Bruins last season at Naranche Stadium. Butte (4-1 overall, 3-0 in the Western AA) and Capital (3-2, 2-1) will square up at 7 p.m. on Friday for the first time since that game.

"That hurt," Kautzman said about both Butte's early playoff exit. "I've been thinking about it, I missed two kicks in that game."

Friday's objective for the Bulldogs is apparent.

"Come back and beat them, and beat them here on our home field," Kautzman said.

Butte knows it has a booming leg to call upon if needed, but its offense has been just as dependable as well. Junior quarterback Jace Stenson has thrown for 927 yards and tossed 12 touchdown passes through five games against just two interceptions, both of those coming against Big Sky.

Receivers Dylan Snyder and Cameron Gurnsey have been Stenson's top targets. Snyder has hauled in a team-high six touchdown passes and piled up 290 yards. Gurnsey leads the Bulldogs with 555 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Senior running back Gavin Vetter has churned out 325 yards on the ground and scored twice.

Butte's defense has also been stout, surrendering just 7 points over the past two games.

The Bruins are now set to offer Butte one of its toughest tests of the season so far.

"It's a great challenge for us," Grey said. "We're excited for it and we can't wait to be back home at Naranche. It feels like forever since we've been home."