EUREKA -- There will be a new champion in Montana Class B football this fall.
The Glasgow Scotties made the most of their 16-hour roundtrip journey to Eureka, knocking off the reigning champion Lions 28-6 in the first round of the Class B football playoffs on Saturday.
The Scotties, the No. 3 seed from the Northern B, were considered a threat to go on the road during the postseason, and they wasted little time showing why. Loden Idler and Tel Aune connected for a 20-yard touchdown on the opening drive for Glasgow, and Idler scored on the two-point try to give the road team an early 8-0 lead.
Eureka nearly tied the game in the second, but a goal-line stand by the Scotties forced a turnover-on-downs, eventually setting up Idler's 76-yard touchdown minutes later to put Glasgow in front 14-0. The Scotties found one more score before the half, as Idler hit Colten Fast with nine seconds remaining to make it 22-6 at halftime.
Glasgow's defense held in the second half, earning another key stop as Eureka drove into the red zone, and Jesse Lee's touchdown with less than 10 minutes remaining in the contest sealed the deal, as the Scotties advance to the second round.
Glasgow will actually host Columbus, after the Cougars, a No. 4 seed, knocked off top-seeded Red Lodge 16-10 on the road.
Cooper Cook scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown early in the third quarter, a 60-yard score that pushed Columbus in front 16-10. Red Lodge led 10-8 at the half.
Whitehall 6, Shepherd 2
If you only looked at the score, you may have thought Whitehall, the No. 3 seed out of the Southern B, and Shepherd, the No. 2 seed out of the Eastern B, were playing baseball in the opening round of the Class B playoffs on Saturday. Whitehall grinded out a 6-2 win over Shepherd in what was a defensive slugfest.
The game featured just one touchdown, but it came at a crucial moment. Whitehall's Miles Hoerauf fired a 29-yard strike to Flint Smith for a touchdown with just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Trojans a 6-2 lead over the Mustangs.
"I'm just thinking we've got to get this to win the game. This is game time," Smith said of the play call. "Fourth quarter, we're down, we need a big one. That's what we did. Luckily got it, so it really helped."
Shepherd, though, had a chance to take the lead in the final minutes. After the Mustangs' drive took nearly six minutes off the clock, it came to a halt when Shawn Garcia-Spindel was intercepted deep in Whitehall territory by Brendan Wagner.
Whitehall still had to kill nearly three minutes off the clock. The Trojans faced a 3rd and 7 but stayed aggressive, as Hoerauf hit Smith on a long connection down the middle of the field to ice the game, as Shepherd was unable to stop the clock from there out.
"Flint made a heck of a play going up and getting that thing, showing his athleticism. ... Shepherd is really stout up front. They're well-coached. They're a gap-sound defense. They like to bring pressure up the middle," Whitehall head coach Dan Lacey said. "We knew they were going to try to take away the running game and we thought we had some decent matchups on the back end. Our receivers did a great job going up and getting those balls."
Whitehall did have its chances to score several times throughout the game, but Shepherd's Mason Faulk had a big hand in putting a stop to several Trojan drives. Faulk had a masterful interception near the Mustangs' after tipping it to himself in the first quarter. Hoerauf tried to test Faulk later in the first half in the end zone and again paid for it. Faulk wound up with three interceptions, but the Shepherd offense was unable to take advantage.
Shepherd had trouble with the turnover bug, too. Quarterback Shawn Garcia-Spindel was picked off by Hoerauf just in front of the Whitehall end zone, which ultimately led to the safety for the Mustangs, as Braden Lammers shot through the offensive line to wrestle down the ball carrier.
Playing in the backfield was a common theme for both teams on Saturday afternoon. Numerous drives from each side stalled due to sacks or tackles for loss. Whitehall, though, really began to open it up in the second half, as the Trojans became more intent on passing the ball, despite Hoerauf's early turnovers. They found success, continually moving the ball into Shepherd territory before the Mustangs defense would tighten up to keep the Trojans from scoring.
"Confidence is my team. They bring me up after every one of those and tell me to get the next one. I try my best to get the next one every time. I couldn't do it without my team," Hoerauf said.
Shepherd, too, was able to take the ball deep into Whitehall territory on multiple occasions, but the Trojan defense was air-tight near their goal line.
"Kudos to Coach Norbeck, our defensive coordinator, and our other coaches for having these guys ready to go. We talked about the physicality. We matched their physicality," Lacey said. "They got some big plays on us. We had a bend but don't break mindset and we did a great job keeping them out of the end zone."
Whitehall will hit the road again in the quarterfinals to face Fairfield, the No. 1 seed out of the Northern B. The Eagles beat Missoula Loyola 38-0 on Saturday.
"We talk about enjoying the experience and the opportunity. That's what we're going to do this time, as well," Lacey said. "We'll enjoy this. We'll get back at it and we'll take it one day at a time. That's our mindset, we just take it one day at a time. We want to have great practices Monday through Friday and we're going to go out there and compete on Saturday."
Florence-Carlton 27, Conrad 8
The Florence football team looked rusty, and rightfully so.
The Falcons ended a 14-day quarantine on Friday with their first practice since Florence High School went to remote learning, and needed some time to get used to getting in-person reps once again after that hiatus.
Challenging enough let alone in the first round of the Class B playoffs. But Florence withstood multiple personal foul penalties and a stingy Conrad defense to defeat the Cowboys 27-8 to begin the Class B postseason on Saturday afternoon.
“We just got out of quarantine (Friday) night and we only got one practice in before this game,” Florence lineman Ethan Abbott said. “We definitely came out in the second half realizing that they’re here to play so we had to match their intensity and win the football game.”
Sophomore quarterback Pat Duchien threw three touchdown passes in the win for the Falcons. Duchien connected with junior running back Tristan Pyette for an 89-yard score to give the Falcons a 7-2 lead at halftime. Conrad scored its initial two points on a safety from a sack on Duchien by Kolter Savik, the third of three first-half sacks the Cowboys got.
Conrad responded in the third quarter as quarterback Caden Huntsinger found Carson Bitney for a 19-yard score to give the Cowboys an 8-7 lead with 9:28 left in the third quarter.
But from there, that early rust began to shake off and Florence showed why it is the No. 1 seed out of the Class B West. Duchien found Blake Shoupe for a 15-yard touchdown to give the Falcons the lead for good with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
“The first half was definitely sluggish. We weren’t executing as well as we should’ve been,” Pyette said. “But we rallied around each other. At halftime we said let’s come together, let’s be a brotherhood, and let’s come back and win this game.”
Later in the fourth quarter, Conrad worked its way to the Florence 15-yard line but Florence’s defense held firm and forced a turnover on downs. The Falcons quickly turned it around offensively and Duchien found Luke Maki for a 2-yard score to make it 20-8 to widen the gap.
The Falcons put the cherry on top with a 20-yard touchdown run by Pyette with 2:31 left in the game to punch Florence’s ticket to the quarterfinal round.
“We could’ve done a couple things better on the field but overall we played a great game, we all came together in the second half,” Abbott said. “We had a rough first half with the simple mistakes but we definitely came back in the second half and got it done.”
Of note, Florence head coach Pat Duchien, the father of Duchien the quarterback, was not at the game in the first two quarters but arrived after halftime to provide a spark and coach the team.
Duchien declined to talk to the media afterwards but Florence athletic director Scott Stiegler said Duchien was not dealing with issues from COVID-19 but was dealing with health issues stemming from a surgery earlier this year which explained his absence.
Florence will host Townsend in the quarterfinals next Saturday. Going forward, the Falcons want to clean up the mistakes made on the field, including seven personal foul penalties, one of which negated a Florence touchdown while another, which was offset by a Conrad penalty, almost canceled out Pyette’s first score.
“We’re usually a very disciplined team,” Pyette said. “There isn’t an explanation for all of the penalties we had but we’re going to fix it for the next playoff games.”
“Two weeks off definitely did not help us,” Florence defensive coordinator Adam Goodnight added. “Came out slow, penalties killed us. If you look at our past eight weeks, what we’ve allowed is us typically shooting ourselves in the foot because of penalties so we have to get stuff cleaned up as far as that goes but we feel good about where we’re at.”
Defensively, the Falcons looked sharp thanks to strong line play from the 6-foot-4, 275 pound Abbott and the rest of the Falcon defense to halt Conrad’s running game.
But on the flip-side, Conrad’s defense stepped up and challenged Florence from the start, something head coach Paul Schilling was pleased to see.
“We really felt like we were going to have to play a good defensive game,” Schilling said. “Our defense was huge. I’m the offensive coordinator and we just never developed a rhythm and it’s a credit to Florence’s defensive and obviously (Abbott) is a force. We just didn’t deal with him very well and they’re very athletic.”
Manhattan 52, Colstrip 0
On Saturday afternoon the No. 1-seeded Manhattan Tigers took on Colstrip and gave the Colts a game they'd like to forget. The Tigers rolled to a 52-0 win in the opening round of the Class B football playoffs.
The Tigers got going early, as a couple nice passes by star quarterback Caden Holgate put them in good field position. The drive was capped off by 3-yard rushing touchdown by senior Isaac Richardson.
“We came out firing," Holgate said. "Didn’t slow down one bit. Didn’t take a single play off.”
“We encouraged the kids to start fast. The last couple weeks we kind of started on a slow note," said Manhattan head coach Chris Grabowska. "(Saturday) we wanted to come into the playoffs and set the tone early and the kids did a good job of that.”
With a few minutes left in the first quarter, Holgate hit wide receiver Tate Bowler for a 25-yard strike in the end zone to put Manhattan up 14-0.
“We tried to pass a little bit, we noticed that their corners played a little off our receivers," said Grabowska. "We knew that if we could complete a few passes it would open up our run game a little bit too. We were just able to stay balanced that way. I like the way our offense performed.”
To start the second, Holgate found receiver Corban Johnson on a short touchdown pass. Johnson had two receiving touchdowns on the day.
“Corban, he's got some hops, he can go up and high-point the ball," said Grabowska. "I think it was a key third down, we were running the hitch to him and he wasn’t open so he just moved over a little bit and Caden found him and he’s able to get the first down. He’s just got good instincts on the field.”
Before the end of the end of the half, Toby Veltkamp had a long rushing touchdown on a fake kick, and Bowler rushed the opening kickoff in the second half for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 32-0.
“That was great," Grabowska said. "It’s nice to see the special teams getting going and being able to dominate all three phases of the football game.”
Holgate finished with four passing touchdowns.
“Caden’s a gamer, he just came out and led our team really well," said Grabowska. "He saw the field, the O-line gave him some time and he’s just able to get some balls up to playmakers, its great to see.”
Richardson ended the day with two rushing touchdowns.
"Our O-line just worked super hard in practice and they worked (Saturday) and got a good push, opened up holes for me to do my stuff," he said.
“Isaac’s always been a great runner, he sees the holes and once he gets going he’s tough to bring down," said Grabowska. "He doesn’t go down on first contact. He had a great game and it’s great to see that too.”
The Manhattan defense continues to terrorize opponents. Saturday was their fourth shutout of the season.
“We’re a strong defensive team, we love playing defense," said Richardson. "We love coming out and trying to get that shutout.”
“Our defense takes pride in shutting the other team down," Grabowska said. "I’m sure they told you they like to play physical, kick teams in the mouth. It’s a mentality, but it starts on Monday, starts with the preparation, just knowing what the other team is going to do. They do a great job of preparing and then also coming out in the game and playing physical football on the defensive side of the ball.”
Manhattan will host Malta in the Class B quarterfinals next week.
“They’re a big, physical team. We got to be ready to go," Grabowska said. "They like to pound the ball a little bit. A lot of play-action passing. Seen a few games on them, we got to get a great game plan and be ready to go.”
Class B football scores
Columbus 16, Red Lodge 10
Glasgow 28, Eureka 6
Manhattan 52, Colstrip 0
Malta 30, Bigfork 14
Fairfield 38, Missoula Loyola 0
Whitehall 6, Shepherd 2
Florence 27, Conrad 8
Townsend 42, Huntley Project 14