HAMILTON – Just over one year ago, Hamilton ended Billings Central’s season with a 35-28 playoff victory. The veterans on Central remember that game like it was yesterday, and there is no better time to avenge that heartbreaking defeat than in this year’s state championship game.
Billings Central’s running back Duncan Kraft is out for revenge.
“I know last year they handed us a tough loss and I know our guys don’t want that to happen again,” Kraft said.
Hamilton’s Head Coach Bryce Carver would love the same result this time around, but even he admits the Rams will be the toughest opponent the Broncs have seen this season.
“Coach (Jim) Stanton is a guy I have the upmost respect for in this state and what he’s done for the past, 200 years it seems like he’s been here. … I saw he got his 200th win this year and they’re going to be good.”
Last year’s game was a back-and-forth shootout and both teams expect a similar battle this time around. However, the way the Broncs and Rams push toward the end zone will be completely different.
The Broncs will spread it out and rely on the arm of Carson Rostad. Rostad is one of the best quarterbacks in the state and has put up video game numbers this season. The junior signal caller has thrown for 2,608 yards and 41 touchdowns. His favorite target is all-state wide receiver Camron Rothie. The senior wideout led the team with 77 catches for 1,171 yards and 21 scores.
That duo will give fits to one of the best defenses this state has to offer. The green and silver only allow 6.5 points per game, but Stanton and crew know this is the most firepower they will have faced all season.
“Their quarterback is a pretty special kid back there, he’s got the ability to really make plays with his arm and then his legs, so yeah we do expect the ball to be up in the air a lot more than we have in the past,” Stanton said.
Central wide receiver and cornerback Chrishon Dixon added, ” They like to do no huddle, like to get the ball out quick, let the playmakers make a lot of the plays, you know, put the ball in the quarterback’s hands.”
As a result, Central’s best defense may in fact be its offense. The Rams will not stray from the approach that has led them to an undefeated record this season. Simply put, when Central has the ball it will be the old school approach of ground and pound.
The combo of Duncan Kraft and Jack Studer each rushed for over 1,300 yards this season, while combining for 33 touchdowns.
Kraft loves that approach and is looking forward to the responsibility.
“We want to control the ball as much as we can, you know, keep our hands on it, keep their offense on the sideline and kind of wear them down with our run game,” said Kraft.
Hamilton running back Michael Golden knows the defense will have their hands full, but he’s confident they will be up to the challenge.
“They like to pound the rock, they have two running backs with over 1,000 yards, so I’m feeling pretty good about our run defense right now, so I feel like we’ll be able to stop it,” Golden said.
If they do stop it, the Rams will look to strike quick, and for that they’ll dial long distance and call on Dixon.
Carver says Dixon is one guy you have to keep your eyes on at all times.
“Dixon might be one of the best athletes, if not the best athlete, in the state of Montana right now,” Carver said. “What he’s done in football and basketball in four years, you know he’s always someone you have to keep an eye on.”
The Class A state championship game kicks off Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. in Hamilton.