HELENA — On the frozen tundra of Vigilante Stadium, the undefeated Helena Capital Bruins hosted the 9-2 Bozeman Hawks for a Week 1 rematch to decide the Class AA football championship. The Bruins prevailed 35-14.
Bruins head coach Kyle Mihelish came in looking to join the state championship club along with every Bruins coach ever.
In the first quarter, the cold didn’t supplant the Bruins' offense from cruising. After a Bozeman three-and-out, senior Hayden Opitz got the scoring going first inside the five from the wildcat putting Capital up 7-0.
Then in their next drive, it was Tom Carter who marched it down to the 1-yard line. From there, running back Dylan Graham punched it in to make it 14-0.
With the first quarter winding down, Bozeman found their stride. Quarterback Jake Casagranda found his tight end Luke Smith on a beautiful wheel route which then set up a quick pass to Smith to make it 14-7.
In the second quarter, Capital broke it open with a 87-yard score from Carter but again, Bozeman responded.
On fourth-and-10 in the red zone, Casagranda fired up a prayer that found the arms of Rocco Lencioni. Capital led at half 21-14.
The third quarter only produced two full drives; both of which ended in punts.
In the fourth quarter, Opitz extended the lead 28-14. Tyler Kovick would seal the game further with a touchdown and an interception.
Capital won their 12th state title on the backs of a monstrously productive senior class.
“You think about in this moment all the hard work and all the time you spent with these guys and all the hard work they put in and the coaching staff, it’s a really happy moment,” Mihelish said with tears in his eyes.
“We started this process so long ago in the summer with success. It got hard sometimes but we pushed through and look where we are right now,” Opitz explained of his senior season.
Carter finished his senior season with 23 touchdowns while his backfield counterpart Opitz finished with 14.
Casagranda was 21-of-42 passing for 241 yards and two touchdown passes but the defense was swarming all night long and made the run game difficult for the Hawks.
Montana Sports' Luke Shelton contributed to this story.