HELENA — Helena Capital, the defending Class AA state football champion, defeated Butte in overtime two weeks ago to claim the No. 2 seed in the Western AA and a first-round bye.
The Bruins (6-3) will host Billings West (6-4) in the quarterfinal round Friday night at Vigilante Stadium.
“We’ve stumbled along the way," said coach Kyle Mihelish. "I don’t know what the prognosticators that know everything about AA football. I didn’t think anybody thought we were going to get here but us.
“The word of the year is consistency, like I said, we did stumble this season, we had to grow up you know, when the challenges came near the end of the season, the kids rose up and got after it (and) accepted the challenge.”
Billings West overpowered Missoula Big Sky 28-10 last week to advance to the Class AA quarterfinals once again.
“The mindset going in is that Billings West is a very good football team. They have a great quarterback, two great running backs, we've got to be mentally and physically ready to go,” Mihelish said. “I think for us, we’re pretty consistent as far as running the football, that’s what we do, we’re going to throw when needed, but power football and inside zone.”
After their team dinner Thursday night, Mihelish and his son Marek will stick to the script: “Just play hard, play physical and play our own football you know, don’t really let the weather change how we play, and if we stay true to ourselves then we can win the game,” added Merek.
A multi-game winning streak allowed the Bruins to relax as they were one of four schools with the first-round bye, which was important to the 20-plus seniors on the team.
"Every year, the seniors mean so much, it's a lot of time, it's a lot of commitment, it's year-round, these seniors have done a good job, consistency all four years," said Kyle Mihelish.
“Don’t take it for granted you know, we only have one more game guaranteed so we might as well just play our hearts out for the seniors,” added Marek Mihelish.
Merek credits everyone around him for the success he’s seen during his junior year, saying, “The wide receivers, the running backs, the lineman, our coaches — it’s really them doing most of the work.”
Merek Mihelish, the starting quarterback, will look to make plays with his legs and his arm against a physical Billings West squad.
The game is scheduled to kick off Friday 7 p.m. at Vigilante Stadium.