BOZEMAN — The Bozeman Hawks fell one win shy of a state championship last year. Now they’re back to make amends.
Bozeman powered its way into the Class AA title game with a 43-19 victory Friday night over defending champ Helena Capital at Van Winkle Stadium. The win set up a championship matchup next week with Kalispell Glacier, which beat Helena Capital 35-14 on Friday. It will be a rematch of the 2016 title game that the Hawks won.
The Hawks, who ran their record to 11-0, got points on their opening drive, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Austin Baller for a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the first quarter.
The Bruins got a 2-yard TD run from Tuff Adams but tried a fake on the point-after try and came up empty. Bozeman then got a 5-yard scoring run from Brady Casagranda to make the score 14-6 later in the first.
Capital QB Marek Mihelish cut into the Bruins’ deficit early in the second quarter with a short TD pass. The point-after was blocked, but Bozeman’s lead was cut to 14-12.
Then came two straight second-quarter scores from the Hawks. Kellen Harrison threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Cordell Holzer and Casagranda dove into the end zone from 2 yards out a couple drives later to put Bozeman up 28-12 just before halftime.
Casagranda scored his third touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run midway through the third. Harrison found Quaid Ash on a 2-point throw for a 36-12 lead for the Hawks. Henry Bianchini added to the lead in the fourth with a touchdown run and the Hawks were on their way to the championship game.
Capital scored a late touchdown and closed its season with a 7-4 record, seeing its bid for a second straight title fall short.
Kalispell Glacier 35, Bozeman Gallatin 14
KALISPELL — They stubbed their toe in an early season loss to Butte, but the Wolfpack of Kalispell Glacier have been all business since. That consistency has earned them a trip back to the state championship game.
Glacier on Friday toppled Bozeman Gallatin 35-14 in the Class AA semifinals to win its eighth straight game and make its way into the title contest for the for the first time in seven seasons. The Wolfpack, now 10-1, will face Bozeman High in a rematch of that 2016 title game won by the Hawks.
The Wolfpack caught Gallatin off guard by recovering an onside attempt on the opening kickoff. That eventually led to a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jackson Presley and a 6-0 advantage after the PAT was missed.
Gallatin answered with a scoring drive of is own, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Carter Dahlke to take a 7-6 lead.
Glacier pinned the Raptors on their own 2-yard line with a punt on its next possession. Lineman Henry Sellards then sacked Gallatin’s Reese Dahlke in the end zone for a safety, making the score 8-7 in favor of the Wolfpack.
That lead increased to 11-7 on a 21-yard field goal by Rhett Measure. Glacier’s defense got a turnover on Gallatin’s next series, leading to a 2-yard scoring run by Kobe Dorcheus and an 18-7 advantage.
The Raptors turned the ball over again on their next drive, leading to a 33-yard field goal by Measure. Glacier led 21-7 at the half.
The Wolfpack began the second half with a long touchdown drive as Isaac Keim scored on a 1-yard run, giving Glacier a three-score lead at 28-7. Dahlke had a 38-yard touchdown run to make it 28-14 with under a minute left in the third.
But Kash Goicoechea put the game out of reach with a 7-yard TD run to give Glacier a three-score lead again in the fourth quarter and seal the win.
Gallatin finished the season 9-2. The Raptors were stopped in the semifinals for the second consecutive season.