Any lingering doubts about Butte High’s football team were erased Friday night, as the Bulldogs took out 21 years of frustration in a 45-13 thumping of the No. 5 ranked Billings West Golden Bears at a packed Naranche Stadium.
Butte’s last win over the Bears came in 1991, the last time a Bulldog season ended in a state title.
The Bulldogs relied on a solid defense, a fast-starting offense and a big-play special teams unit in the convincing victory. Junior quarterback Dallas Cook threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns – all in the second quarter – as Zach Bunney caught an 18-yard scoring pass and returned an interception 28 yards for another touchdown.
“We came out with a lot of energy and passion,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said. “The crowd was amazing and the kids fed off that. We love to play at home.”
Billings West coach Paul Klaboe, the only coach on the field Friday who ever played at Naranche, said his team’s winning streak over his high school alma mater was bound to end sooner or later.
“The ‘Dogs were tough tonight,” Klaboe said. “They showed up and played hard, but turnovers hurt us.”
West lost three of its four fumbles in addition to Bunney’s pick-six. Butte scored after each turnover, as the Bulldogs came out ahead the turnover margin for the first time this season.
Butte’s first score also followed a fumble, but it was one of the Bulldogs’ own. Cook found Butte receiver Bryce Armstrong on a middle slant route, and the senior was closing in on the goal line when the ball popped out. Jon Allen didn’t miss a beat as he scooped up the drop and brough it the final four yards to get the Bulldogs on the board.
The Butte defenders forced a turnover on downs, and the dangerous Bulldog offense was back at it. After Armstrong gained 32 yards on another couple inside routes, Cook lofted a perfect spiral into the waiting hands of Dalton Daum, who easily outpaced the defense en route to a 52-yard scoring play.
A 22-yard pass play between Cook and tight end Tyler Earles set up a 6-yard scoring strike to Cory Farstveet, while Bunney used a burst of speed in a screen to the left side in lifting Butte to a four-touchdown lead.
West put together its first successful drive of the game in the third quarter, as the Bears marched 74 yards in 14 plays, capped by a 1-yard dive by Colton Seitz. The possession burned up more than half of the quarter, however, and Butte sill led by three touchdowns.
The Bulldogs’ next drive stalled short of the goal line, but Jake Dennehy rifled a 35-yard field goal through the uprights to give Butte back a four-score lead. Dennehy’s first field goal attempt early in the game bounced off the top of the left upright, but he was successful on all six PAT kicks.
Dennehy was also part of a fiery special teams unit that pinned the Bears deep in their own territory a number of times.
West was brewing another drive when Bunney burst between the Bear receiver and a pass, leaving nothing but grass between himself and the end zone.
“I read his route and I didn’t think I was going to get to the ball,” Bunney said. “But I jumped on it and got into the end zone.”
After Butte’s first punt of the night, Daniel Kloepfel recovered a fumble setting up Jake Eisenbarth’s 22-yard scoring run to the right side of the field, giving the Bulldogs their final point advantage.
Butte High’s high-power offense has scored at least 41 points in all four of its games.
The Butte High defense recorded four big sacks on the night. Bo Taylor took West quarterback Ryan Gallogly down for a 9-yard loss on West’s first possession, forcing a Bear punt. Nick Williams sacked Gallogly for an 8-yard setback in the second quarter, while Butte recorded a pair of sacks in the fourth quarter. Billy Robinson dropped Gallogly for a 5-yard loss that took the quarterback out of the game, while Brandon Brisbo and Farstveet combined to sack West’s second-string quarterback Wilson Brott 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The Bulldog defense has given up just 13 points since Skyview handed Butte its only defeat – a 55-48 decision in the second week of the season. Grey said at the time the game would help his team later in the season.
“We didn’t panic after Skyview,” Grey said. “We came back to work and our coaches had a plan. We’ve seen better energy level, effort and enthusiasm since then, but we’re still not where we want to be.”
Butte Linebacker Nate Mattson, who recovered two of West’s four fumbles, agreed that the Bulldogs are still a work in progress.
“We all played together tonight, but we’ve still got stuff to work on,” Mattson said. “This was a big step forward though.”
Cook, who leads the state in passing and total yardage, said his team needed to rise above the hype of homecoming and focus on the game at hand.
“I think we were a lot more calm this week,” the junior signal caller said. “Every day at practice, after every break, we talked about dominating. That’s what we did.”
Grey said a big key for his team has been living in the moment.
“We’re not bringing the previous play with us,” he said. “We’ve found that when we take it one play at a time and come to work every play, we’re going to be OK.”
Butte High faces its third opponent from Billings next Friday when the Bulldogs travel to Daylis Stadium to take on Billings Senior. The Broncs suffered a 54-26 loss to Great Falls Russell Friday in Great Falls.
West 0 0 13 0 – 13
Butte 7 21 10 7 – 45
Butte – Jon Allen 4 fumble advance (Jake Dennehy kick), :22
Butte – Dalton Daum 52 pass from Dallas Cook (Dennehy kick), 8:35
Butte – Cory Farstveet 6 pass from Cook (Dennehy kick), 5:19
Butte – Zach Bunney 18 pass from Cook (Dennehy kick), 2:28
West – Colton Seitz 1 run (Grant Linde kick), 5:50
Butte – Dennehy 35 FG, 3:10
Butte – Bunney 28 interception return (Dennehy kick), 2:09
West – Trace Alkire 16 pass from Ryan Gallogly (pass failed), :00
Butte – Jake Eisenbarth 22 run (Dennehy kick), 8:03
First downs 22 19
Rushes-yards 41-127 32-92
Passing yards 233 295
Comp-att-int 21-33-1 18-23-0
Fumbles-lost 4-3 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-48 4-25
RUSHING – West: Colton Seitz 21-74, Ryan Gallogly 12-41, Jason Baker 5-12, Colby Nelson 1-3, Wilson Brott 2-(-3). Butte: Jake Eisenbarth 14-65, Derek Anderson 1-19, Zach Bunney 2-11, Bo Taylor 3-4, Damien Hayden 1-3, Dallas Cook 5-2, Joe Blunt 5-(-2), Jake Dennehy 1-(-10).
PASSING – West: Ryan Gallogly 21-30-1-233, Wilson Brott 0-3-0-0. Butte: Dallas Cook 18-23-0-295.
RECEIVING – West: Trace Alkire 12-158, Kole Gantone 4-29, Colton Seitz 2-21, Ty Webb 2-15, Garrett Compton 1-10. Butte Bryce Armstrong 6-86, Tyler Earles 6-80, Dalton Daum 2-63, Jon Allen 2-42, Zach Bunney 1-18, Cory Farstveet 1-6.