COLUMBIA FALLS — The stats officially show four passing touchdowns from Carson Rostad to Camron Rothie, with a Michael Golden score icing the game, but it was the defense that the Hamilton Broncs say deserves credit for Friday night’s 35-24 win over defending Class A champion Columbia Falls.
“We know that we would like to be a first-half team, but we call ourselves a second-half team a lot,” laughed Rothie. “Our defense really stepped up, no points in the second half. That was nice.”
“We just were confident. We’ve been there before, last year in the state title (game). Wish we would have done this last year, but we know we can do it this year,” added Rostad.
Columbia Falls, which defeated Hamilton 26-14 in last year’s State A title game, broke a 14-all tie in the second quarter of Friday night’s game, using a field goal and a Colten McPhee touchdown right before the half to take a 24-14 advantage into the locker room.
But Hamilton coach Bryce Carver and the Broncs didn’t panic, or even change the game plan entirely.
“Their running back was killing us, so we just said, ‘Stop the run and make them throw it.’ Our defensive backs were making plays, that was really nice,” said Rothie. “I don’t think they made any deep plays throwing, it was mostly running (after the catch).”
“(McPhee) is one of the best players we’ll see all year in the entire state, by far. He’s legit and I give him credit. We knew that coming in. You’re not going to contain him, but you have to limit his long runs, his long catches. He’s going to get his,” said Carver. “I think our defense, the first series we just had a blown coverage, great play by them. Then at the end (of the half), just a couple missed tackles. But like I told our guys, I said, ‘It’s not just us missing tackles, he’s doing it, too.’ Finally when our kids wrapped up, we got 11 guys to the ball a little bit and that helped get him down, not giving him those big long runs and making them sustain some drives to score.”
Following the game, Carver told MTN Sports, as well as his Broncs, he expects Hamilton and Columbia Falls to meet again this fall, potentially in another key playoff showdown, where Rostad says he and his teammates look forward to another potential chapter in the history of the rivalry.
“We act like we hate each other (on the field), but it’s just competitiveness,” he said. “They’re the most competitive team I’ve ever played.”