HELENA -- It was a cold and snowy Friday evening for Helena crosstown football with the Helena High Bengals besting the Helena Capital Bruins, 12-6. Though snow piled on the field througout the game, the players for the Bengals didn't seem to mind.
"All these guys, I grew up with all my life and battling out there with all the guys on the other side I knew all my life. We're going to look at this when we're adults and say, 'Hey, we run crosstown,'" said Helena High senior Ben Swanson.
With snow starting well before game time and the temperatures steadily dropping throughout, there were certainly some aspects of the game that were less than desirable, especially for Dexter Tedesco, who had to fill in under center for the first time this season. Helena’s starting quarterback, Kaden Huot, was out with an injury.
"It was crazy. You can’t feel the ball," Tedesco said. "Obviously, it's a fun game. I mean, with the snow and everything, but just can't hold on to the ball. It's like it's just a brick. It made it way, way, way more difficult."
After the win for the Bengals, it was like a balloon popped. Players ran around the sidelines and rolled in the inches of snow that came down earlier in the evening. For head coach Scott Evans, he was happy as ever to see it.
“It's so intense out there that now I'm so happy for the kids, and you're sitting there and you're getting through everything and you're watching it. Now I can kind of get a little relief and take a breath, kind of go, 'God, this is so incredible for the seniors,'" said Evans. "I have a senior son and I'm watching him out here in the snow diving around right now, and they haven't gotten out of the snow one time (Friday) and they're still diving. That's just cool to see.”
Crosstown is in its own class when people talk about high school football in Helena. Players, coaches and spectators circle the date on their calendars as soon as the schedule comes out, and for Swanson other games will have some pretty stiff competition to try and beat it as the best game he’s ever played in.
"It may be, it may be. Unless we get to the state championship, this might be the one," said Swanson.
The win wasn't simply about hometown pride, though. The Bengals were also able to lock up a first-round bye in the Class AA playoffs, which is a much-needed prize for a team that wants to get its players healthy.
"This is what you work for. You know, you go all season, win crosstown, you work to win a conference title. We didn't win a conference title, but we took second and that gets us first-round bye," said Evans. "That is one of the goals you have at the beginning of season, to have an off week so all your guys get healed up and you'll be in a position to play a good playoff season."
"Great feeling. Get a nice week to relax and kind of get our offense back going again with Huot," said Tedesco. "It'll be good to get our offense back going again and get a week off."
The Bengals now await their destiny as they'll wait a week to determine who they play in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.