HELENA — It’s the game that divides the Queen City every fall: the crosstown football showdown between Helena Capital and Helena High.
It’s a game that not only brings hard hits and city bragging rights with it, but a good amount of mutual respect between the town’s two teams and head coaches Kyle Mihelish and Scott Evans.
“We might ride each other a little bit down the road, but never anything bad about it,” said Evans, who is in his first season as the head coach at Helena High. “We’re coaching kids, we’re doing a good job of it with them every day. He’s over there working his butt off, I’m over here working my butt off and what comes of it comes of it.”
What comes of it is two teams that know each other very, very well.
“Schematically, (Helena is) big up front,” said Capital’s Mihelish. “You know (running back Brady Koenig) is going to get his yards. You got the big tackles and they pull, and Holden Sampson is a big stud there. They are a lot bigger than we are, but that’s why you go Friday night and play the game.”
“Bridger Grovom is doing a good job at quarterback (for Capital), getting himself open,” Evans said. “There is some guys there, they’ve got good receivers that catch the deep balls. They’ve been doing a good job getting that together, and their offense is starting to gel a little bit. Defensively they just play a solid game every year, Kyle does a great job with them.”
“Defensively they are solid and they get a lot of those kids back,” Mihelish said. “The (Alex) Johnson kid is obviously a player. They are just active. They do a good job, they get up in your face and your receivers and press you. They force you to make mistakes, so we’re going to have to be on our game Friday night.”
“They’ve got some big dudes on the line. They got Alaric (Greil) over there, he’s not a bad player and got a couple more big guys on their D-line, so we’re going to have to play physical with those guys,” Helena quarterback Ty McGurran said of the Bruins. “But I feel like we can do some good things against them.”
Helena High is coming off its first loss of the season, at Kalispell Glacier, after starting the year with three consecutive wins. Capital, meanwhile, has won two consecutive games after opening the season with losses at Great Falls High and Kalispell Flathead. The Bruins have since defeated Butte and Billings Skyview.
“It was tough being a young team, playing those two good teams, but I think it helped us, and then getting those two wins and building confidence,” said Capital wide receiver Parker Johnston. “We win this game we’ll just keep going next week and if we win those games, keep going and make the playoffs.”
That’s the ultimate goal for both these squads, but first they have to take the Capital City crown