FLORENCE — In a fashion true to most of this season, the Florence Falcons captured their first state title in over 40 years on Saturday after downing the Bigfork Vikings 42-0.
"They put their hearts into it. They've worked their butts off," said head coach Pat Duchien II. "And they're gonna leave a legacy that is gonna carry for on forever, forever and ever. I mean they made history today."
The Vikings and the Falcons sat at a deadlock through the first quarter as neither defense was willing to give in. Though the Falcons offense was stout Saturday, early on it didn't appear to be the case as Patrick Duchien III bobbled a snap that would be recovered by Bigfork near the Vikings' 30-yard line. The Falcons were able to fade the mistake and found their offensive rhythm near the opening of the second quarter.
Florence opened the scoring with a 22-yard pass from Duchien III to Caden Zaluski to put the Falcons up 7-0, before Luke Maki put on a show to end the first half. Maki was the one to find the endzone next on a reverse hand-off that found paydirt from 15 yards out, and a 32-yard pass from Duchien III that would give the Falcons a 21-0 lead going into the half.
In a day where it appeared as if the spotlight was on him, Duchien III wrapped up a four-touchdown performance in the third quarter after hurdling a Vikings defender to get to the endzone and finding Blake Shoupe from about 20 yards out to give the Falcons a 35-0 lead with just over 6:30 left in the third quarter.
"It just shows how well like — our chemistry is. And we're able to come out here and get those touchdowns tonight. My line and my receivers; those are the people that gave me all those touchdowns to be able to do that," said Duchien III of his performance.
The Falcons' defense seldom let up on Bigfork as the Vikings struggled to gain yards throughout the contest. Levi Posey and Jace Pederson both recorded interceptions on the day.
Though the Bigfork Vikings didn't get the result they wanted, head coach Jim Benn told MTN the loss is nothing to hang their heads about and he's happy with the legacy his team left after a year that saw his team stricken with grief.
"I think a lot of people think that coaching and sports is about, you know, winning games, but it's this is an extension of the classroom, you know? It's character building, and that's, that's the thing that's beautiful about it. You take young boys and you turn them into young men, and I'm real proud of our young men," said Benn.
Following the win, members of the Falcons' team and fanbase gathered on the field to celebrate, and many were at a loss for words
"I don't even know how to express my emotions right now. It's just crazy. Like we've been working for this for so long, and we're finally able to do it," said Duchien III.
Even during the game, the Falcons knew it was going to be a day to remember.
"If I go back to just seven minutes left in the game, we're all crying, you know, the whole team, just especially the seniors. It's a unreal feeling, you know, just, I can't even explain it. It's just something different, something special," said Maki. "All that work that we put in finally paid off. And, and seeing that from when we were freshmen, just change and morph. This is a special team. There's no other team I would want to do this with: my brothers."