MISSOULA — If you've seen the Missoula Big Sky Eagles play, you know they're a run-first team. On Thursday night, quarterback Colter Janacaro showed how powerful their ground game can be as he rushed for six touchdowns and added two through the air.
Janacaro and the Eagles beat the Kalispell Flathead Braves on Thursday night to secure the sixth and final playoff spot coming out of the Western AA.
And the Eagles didn’t just squeak out a win, their offense showed out with an impressive performance putting 60 points on the board.
“I thought our kids did an excellent job of staying focused on the goal and understanding some run plays we only get a couple of yards," said Eagles head coach Matt Johnson. "They just stayed with it and made simple adjustments throughout the game, so offensively really happy with that.”
That was all led by a lethal ground attack from Janacaro, who wracked up 272 yards on 28 carries and six touchdowns.
“There was almost no answer. Every time we ran, it almost got easier for him," said Johnson. "He started seeing it better and more and understanding how hard it is to get to that edge. I think that’s what really was setting up those late ones.”
Running back Hunter Meinzen also brings a fresh set of legs to the party each week, he added 30 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
“He’s leading the way, he has huge, key blocks on almost every one of those (runs)," said Johnson. "It’s a team effort and I give our line credit, we’ve been battling the last couple of weeks. We are really starting to come together and make something out of it.”
And the Eagles weren’t too bad in the air either. Janacaro finished going 17 for 22 with 167 yards and added two more touchdowns to bring his total to eight.
That puts him tied for second for scores in a single game in the Montana High School Association record books for 11-man football, trailing only Bo Hughes, who scored nine times for Missoula Loyola in 2012.
“Happy, that’s the first word that comes to mind," said Janacaro. "It feels great to be up there with some of the greatest players that have played in Montana before.”
While Janacaro had a career night that he likely won’t top anytime soon, he knows the Big Sky Eagles have work to do ahead of next week’s first-round playoff game against Kalispell Glacier in Kalispell.
“I would say how we never gave up, how we ran the ball," said Janacaro. "I think the defense could use a lot of work. We let them put up 40 points on us, so that’s not good.”
The Eagles will look to knock off the No. 3 seed on the road next weekend.