HELENA – Butte High’s football season came to an end Friday, as the Bulldogs dropped a 31-6 decision to Helena Capital at Vigilante Stadium.
The Bulldogs ended their injury-riddled season with a 1-9 record, while the Bruins wound up 8-2, and will likely host a playoff game next week.
A pair of Nate Ferguson field goals accounted for Butte High’s only points, while the Bruins got three passing touchdowns from quarterback Carter Pappas – two to Will Hunthausen, who became Capital’s all-time leading receiver early in the game.
Butte High, which has had trouble in the early going of most of their games this season, turned it around in the first quarter against the Bruins. After Capital scored on its first drive, with Pappas hitting Hunthausen for a 42-yard score, Butte took the ball and drove forward for three first downs before stalling and taking a 30-yard field goal from Ferguson, who drilled it solidly down the middle.
Mason Ruppel and Bo Mortensen both gained yards on the drive, but it was a 37-yard jaunt by Mortensen that was the biggest chunk of the campaign. Mortensen finished with nine carries for 53 yards, while Ruppel had seven totes for 18 yards.
The Bulldog defense found form, holding the Bruins to a single first down for the rest of the quarter. Butte’s only other drive of the first quarter was snuffed by the first of three Capital interceptions.
Butte’s most sustained drive of the night straddled the first and second quarters, covering 73 yards before Ferguson booted another 3-pointer from 27 yards out two minutes into the second quarter. Kiley Caprara, who led the ‘Dogs with seven catches for 111 yards, tallied 32 yards on a diving catch of a Peterson aerial.
As good as that play was, the drive itself was mainly sustained by four rushes by Peterson, who had four carries for 28 yards on that possession alone. The sophomore QB finished with 14 yards on 10 carries, but that was due to a couple sacks absorbed later in the game.
The Bulldogs trailed by just a point, but it was then that Pappas and Hunthausen connected on their second 42-yard scoring strike, leaving the 14-6 score where it remained until half.
The third quarter was Butte’s undoing, as four punts ended Butte’s drives and the Bruins scored three times in less than six minutes to put the game all but out of reach.
“In the first half we played tough and smart,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said. “In the second half we didn’t. But you know I’m proud of them. It’s a great group of seniors and a great group of guys. Our seniors have been great leaders and they’ve showed up to work hard every day. They’re a pleasure to be around and they’ve learned a lot that will help them in life.”
Peterson, a sophomore, completed 19 of 36 passes for 188 yards, though three were intercepted. Though his development was painful at times, the youngster made good progress throughout the season and will come into next season miles ahead of where he would have been as a backup. Grey noted that Peterson got about 500 more reps than he expected at the beginning of the year.
Butte will lose plenty of talent and leadership to graduation, but has a good, solid core group returning. Caprara has another year remaining as does standout defensive back Bryce Gallagher. Jake Moore, Will O’Connor and Brian LaFond all have a year left, while Peterson, Mortensen and Greyson Mandic all have two years left to play at Butte High.