Arntson, Bengals hand Bulldogs 49-14 loss

By Bruce Sayler

Again, Butte High tripped over the starting blocks. Again, the misfire cost the Bulldogs. They lost 49-14 to the serious ground-and-pound of star running back Ryan Arntson and the Helena High Bengals Friday night in Class AA Conference high school football at Naranche Stadium.

Arntson, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound senior speedster, and son of Helena High head coach Tony Arntson, tore for 287 yards on 23 carries, including touchdown bursts of 71, 4, 14, 59 and 37 yards. He had gained 144 yards less than five minutes into the contest, and had already chalked up a pair of TDs by that time.

“They’re good,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said of the Bengals. “That Arntson kid is pretty tough. And when he’s in space, he has good speed.”

Helena High rolled for 451 yards on the ground en route to 530 yards of total offense. The Bengals the ball only eight times and completed five of the passes — including a 45-yard aerial from junior quarterback Kaleb Winterburn to junior tight end Max Morris that was good for a touchdown. Morris, also the team’s kicker, is the son of former Butte Central great Brian Morris.

The Morris touchdown was in the third quarter and the last of the game as it set the 35-second clock in motion. However, it was the beginnings, not the endings, that hurt the Bulldogs the most on Friday. It has been a malady that has plagued the team much in the last month, putting them so far behind right away in three of their last four games.

Helena High scored on the second play from scrimmage, a handoff to Arntson that went 71 yards to paydirt. Butte High was forced to punt its first possession, but thought it had recovered a Helena-muffed-punt in the end zone for a score. The officials,however, ruled it a touchback and brought the ball out to the 20-yard line, in Bengal possession.

An all-ground march ended seven plays later in an Arntson 4-yard TD carry. It was 14-0, Bengals, with 7 minutes,45 seconds left in the first quarter.

“We didn’t start again,” Grey said. “We dug ourselves a hole. We have to do a better job of taking advantage of opportunities early in games. It was important to start early and we didn’t do it.”

Butte High’s next possession ended in punt blocked by Kendall Johnson and recovered at the Bulldog 16. The Butte High defense held. Arntson lost two yards over two carries and then was thrown for a loss by Willie Anderson on a pass reception 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On fourth down, the Bengals went to the air. Bulldog cornerback Will O’Connor wrestled the ball away from the Bengal receiver in the end zone for an interception.

However, Butte High was unable to ride the new momentum for a score. Two dropped passes in three incompletes stymied the offense and the Bulldogs punted on fourth down. The Bengals ran off a good return to the Butte High 40-yard line, then scored eight plays later on a 3-yard plunge by Keair Adgerson, who finished with 98 yards rushing for the game. The Butte High hole was 21-0 with 10:48 to go in the half.

“The defense made some great stops,” Grey said. “But, it was on the field way too much in the first half.”

Backup quarterback Tommy Mellott’s quarter to play was the second and he was able to take the Bulldogs to their first score. The freshman connected twice with senior Kiley Caprara for big gainers, the last a 52-yard thriller to the Helena 1-yard line. The Bengal defender deflected the throw, but Caprara still picked it out of the air and then raced and tangled with the opponent fiercely down the field before being hauled to the turf just short of the goal line. Bo Mortensen carried it in from there. Caprara finished the game with 142 yards on six receptions.

The teams traded possessions until the Bengals pushed in Arntson’s third TD — a 14-yard dash for a 28-7 halftime command.

Grey said he’s been using Mellott to play a quarter in recent games to allow Peterson, a junior, to see the game from a different perspective, give Mellott some playing time and his team’s offense and the opposing defense a little change in the attack.

“Both of our quarterbacks are very talented players,” the coach said.’

Peterson took the Bulldogs to the first touchdown of the second half. Her led an 11-play drive that ended with a 14-yard toss to Ferguson in the back of the end zone. Peterson had been looking right while Ferguson zipped into the end zone, then veered to Peterson’s left while crossing through the back. When Peterson looked to his left, the tight end was all alone in the corner and the QB lobbed him the ball.

However, the positive emotion gained from the score soon evaporated. Helena High returned the kickoff to its own 41, and Arntson took the first-down handoff all the way to paydirt. The Bengals got their three-touchdown lead back, 35-14. They tacked on Arntson’s last TD and Winterburn’s touchdown pass to Morris before the quarter ended. They clinched a spot in the Class AA playoffs.

:We need to shore up some things and keep getting better everyday,” Grey said. “We’ll do OK (next week and in the future).

“Tonight, I thought Kiley did a good job with the ball in his hands. We have to do a better job of feeding off each other — when the offense does well, the defense needs to feed off that momentum. It’s the same when the defense does well. The offense needs to (be inspired by it). We need to do a better job of making strides in one week.”

Helena High has a 6-3 record while Butte High fell to 2-7 and will finish the season next week with a home game Friday against Helena Capital. Senior Night will be celebrated.

Friday’s game saw the Bulldogs pass for 230 yards, but were limited to 44 on the ground. The Bengal pass rush sacked the Butte High QBs seven times.

Ferguson caught seven passes for Butte High in gaining 87 yards. The Butte High defense sacked Winterburn twice. Linebacker Austin Lee led the Bulldog “D” with a fumble recovery, a sack, and two other tackles for loss. Jake Moore had the other sack while Brian LaFond and Corbin Walker also pulled down Bengal ballcarriers in the backfield.

Helena High 14 14 21 0 — 49

Butte High 0 7 7 0 — 14

First Quarter

HEL — Ryan Arntson 71 run (Max Morris kick), 11:13. Drive — 73 yards in 2 plays. Key play — scoring play.

 HEL — Arntson 4 run (Morris kick), 7:45. Drive — 80 yards in plays. Key play — Arntson 38[yard run to Butte High 4-yard line.

Second Quarter

HEL — Keair Adgerson 3 run (Morris kick), 10:48. Drive — 40 yards in 8 plays. Key play — Arntson 10-yard run to Butte High 16-yard line.

BUTTE — Bo Mortensen 1 run (Nathaniel Ferguson kick), 9:09. Drive — 79 yards in 7 plays. Key play — Kiley Caprara 52-yard pass from Tommy Mellott to Helena High 1-yard line.

HEL — Arntson 14 run (Morris kick), 2:30. Drive — 56 yards in 4 plays. Key play — Kaleb Winterburn 33 run to Butte High 23-yard line.

Third Quarter

BUTTE  — Nathaniel Ferguson 14 pass from Ty Peterson (Ferguson kick), 8:43. Drive 79 yards in 11 plays. Key play — Scoring play.

HEL — Arntson 59 run (Morris kick), 8:25. Drive — 59 yards in 1 play. Key play — Scoring play.

HEL– Arntson 37 run (Morris kick), 3:37. Drive — 51 yards in 4 plays. Key play — Scoring play.

HEL– Max Morris 45 pass from Winterburn (Morris kick), 2:58. Drive — 45 yards in 1 play. Key play — Scoring play.

Fourth Quarter

No scoring.


Hel Butte

First downs 26 15

Rushes-yards 51-451 39-44

Passes 5-8-2 15-37-0

Passing yards 79 230

Return yards 23 0

Punts-avg. 1-33.0 x-7-29.0

Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-3

Penalties-yards 5-45 9-94

X — Denotes blocked punt.


Individual Statistics

RUSHING — Helena, Ryan Arntson 23-287, Keair Adgerson 15-98, Kaleb Winterburn 6-55, Joey Hoover 1-11, Grady Koenig 1-7, Ray Trudeau 1-3, Team 2-(-10). Butte, Bo Mortensen 17-49, Ty Peterson 9-36, Tommy Mellott 3-11, Will O’Connor 1-1, Team 7-(-53).

PASSING — Helena, Winterburn 5-8-2-1-79. Butte, Mellott 5-11-0-131, Peterson 10-26-0-99.

RECEIVING — Helena, Max Morris 1-45, Taylor England 1-31, Derrick Olsen 1-8, Arntson 2-(-5). BUTTE, Kiley Caprara 6-142, Nathaniel Ferguson 7-87, Brady Deck 1-1, O’Connor 1-0.




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