Butte High’s fourth straight postseason football journey begins Friday, as the Bulldogs board the team bus headed for Kalispell.
The ‘Dogs, who wound up with a seven seed after posting a 6-4 regular season mark in the Class AA ranks, face the second seed Glacier Wolfpack at Legends Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., with live radio coverage on KBOW 550 AM and 101.5 FM. (Listen online)
It will be the second meeting this year for the squads, as the Wolfpack (9-1) came to Butte midway through the regular season and took advantage of six turnovers to walk away with a 58-41 victory.
“This is what you live for, playoff football,” said Butte High head coach Arie Grey. “We want to be one of four teams that won’t be putting our equipment away this weekend.”
The teams’ last meeting was an offensive display on both sides of the ball with more than 1,200 yards gained. Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook was responsible for 606 yards, as he threw for five touchdowns. He was, however, intercepted five times that night, three of which went back for touchdowns.
“The number one thing we need to do is take care of the ball and create turnovers,” Grey said. “If we do that and play tough in special teams, we’ll be fine. They know what’s at stake.”
Grey noted the Bulldogs’ path won’t be an easy one, as all remaining games will be on the road, but he likes where they sit.
“We’re backed into a corner, but these guys love that,” Grey said. “They have to fight their way out. Glacier is a very good, sound team, but so are we.”
Butte is coming off a tough 61-20 loss to Bozeman last Friday in a game that saw Cook, receiver Peter Granger and linebacker Mason Woods leave the field with injuries. They’ll all be back in action this week, Grey said.
Cook, who has played with an injured foot much of the season, said on Wednesday that he’d be ready to get back at it Friday.
“Last week is behind us,” Cook said. “We’re treating this as just another game.”
“Just another game” for Cook will likely be another big one. The record-setting senior has averaged nearly 460 yards of total offense per game over the season, with an average of 387 yards per game coming from the pass.
He’s got a stable of talented receivers led by junior Dalton Daum, who has set a number of school and state records – many of them career marks with a year still left to play. In addition to Granger, Butte High has a threatening bunch of receivers including Zach Johnson, Connor Lane, Brody Hart, Cory Farstveet, Chase Plum, Tyler Earles and sophomore Paul Campbell.
Senior running back Jake Eisenbarth is a strong threat out of the backfield and as a receiver and return man as well.
Though the Hawks scored 61 points, the Butte High defense actually played a tough game last week. Bozeman got a couple of big plays that hurt, but a big chunk of the Hawks’ scoring came from its defense and special teams.
“Defense played a great game,” Grey said. “We held them to under 100 yards rushing and played a tough, physical game.”
Butte High’s defense has seen some excellent play from Clay Dean in the defensive backfield, while Earles, Connor Lee and Johnny Walker have come on strong up front.
All will need to have standout games to keep the Bulldogs’ season alive past Friday night.
“Right now it comes down to who can get hot at the right time,” Grey said.