Bulldogs take on Billings West at Naranche

After a win in the first week of the season, Butte High has lost four straight Class AA football games. The Bulldogs have an opportunity to get back on track Friday evening when Billings West comes to town.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Naranche Stadium as the Bulldogs celebrate Little Guy Football night, with young members of Butte’s future teams taking the field to welcome Butte High to the turf. KBOW’s Paul Panisko will have the call, with John Thatcher slated to provide color commentary on KBOW 550 AM and 101.5 FM.

Coming off a rough 59-7 loss at Great Falls Russell, the Bulldogs will need one thing in abundance this week, says Butte High head coach Arie Grey.

“We need tremendous effort,” Grey said Wednesday afternoon. “We need some physical play and we need a big push. If we make a mistake, we need to do it as hard as we can.”

Grey said his team has practiced with fire this week.

“We’ve had a couple of our best practices of the year this week,” he said. “The guys understand what needs to be done, and we’re going to create opportunity with our effort.”

Though the Bulldogs suffered their toughest loss of the season last Friday in Great Falls – largely due to a painful 35-point CMR third quarter – Grey saw some positive aspects in the defeat, mostly in the first half.

“We ran 43 offensive plays that half, and other than a couple spots our defense played really well,” he said. “Now we have to build on that. We know what we’re capable of and we can do great things with effort.”

Billings West comes in with a 2-3 record after losing its first three games of the season. The Golden Bears have scored 41 points in each of the last two weeks with a 41-0 win over Missoula Hellgate and a 41-35 victory against Missoula Big Sky.

“West has some good athletes,” Grey noted. “They’re going to give us some different looks on defense and we’ll see their no-huddle offense. They’re very dynamic on special teams too. They’ve improved a ton.”

Butte High will see the return of Bryce Gallagher at cornerback and on the return teams, and also hope to see some time from senior captain Riley Vaughn on the offensive line. That’s good news for a team that’s seen much more than its share of injuries this season, including a broken collarbone suffered in the first week by quarterback Dylan Cook.

Sophomore quarterback Ty Peterson has been getting his initiation by fire this season, and will look to build on the experience he’s gained thus far into the season. Butte will also look to sophomore running back Bo Mortensen for production on the ground, while Kiley Caprara, Matt Merzlak and Jake Salmonsen facilitate the passing game.

Butte will also get Quinn Dennehy back at safety, following a tough hit that knocked him out of the CMR game last Friday. He’ll be joined by Will Kilmer at corner and Brian LaFond at defensive end, both of whom played well in last Friday’s loss.

Though they haven’t seen the results in the win column, Butte’s players have reaped other benefits this season, Grey said.

“We’ve learned some great life lessons,” Grey opined. “We’ve had to deal with adversity, but it’s made us better people.”

Grey isn’t pleased, however, with just moral victories.

“We need to get out quick and go in all three phases,” he said. “We want to get some confidence early. It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for you.”

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