Butte High will bring 23 seniors out onto the field at Naranche Stadium Thursday for their final home game as Bulldogs at Naranche Stadium.
The Dogs (1-6) will host Kalispell Glacier in a Class AA Football game with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. Paul Panisko and John Thatcher will have the call on KBOW, 550 AM and 101.5 FM.
Senior Parents’ Night will see four Bulldogs unable to play due to injury. Quarterback Dylan Cook, receiver Paul Campbell, defensive lineman Cole Gillespie and offensive lineman Quinn Cunneen will sit out their final home football games.
Playing, however, will be Matt Merzlak, Jake Salmonsen, Quinn Dennehy, Anthony Cooney, Tucker Thatcher, Justin Peterson, Mason Ruppel, Sean Cooney, Will Kilmer, Ax Henningsen, Cian Randall, Kaleb Ferriter, Robbie Hyatt, Konnor O’Neill, Bryce Liebel, Nolan Boyle, Justin Best, Riley Vaughn and Cody Baszler.
“It’s been fun to watch these guys grow,” said Butte High head coach Arie Grey. “These are some tremendous young men who have put a lot of time and effort into this.”
It’s been a tough season. After a double overtime win the first week out, the Bulldogs have lost six straight. Butte has scored just one touchdown in each of those six games, and due to injury, the team has had a different starting lineup in each of its first seven games, and again in this, the eighth.
Currently, among sophomores, juniors and seniors, Butte is missing 10 players due to injury. That’s the best the injury number has been in weeks. At one point, 23 players were unable to go in due to injury.
“It would be one thing if they were all out because of one injury,” Grey said. “We could deal with that and change things. But it’s been random different injuries. We’ve had a wide range of things happen to the kids. I think we’ve taken care of the entire body.”
Still, Grey and his team aren’t seeking sympathy, and are looking for a win over the defending state champions Thursday night.
“We had our best week of practice so far this season,” Grey said. “The kids have focused on getting better one day at a time. They bought into the idea of getting better every day, and that’s really all we can ask for.”
The Bulldogs will try to improve on first downs – on both sides of the ball – in their battle with the Wolfpack.
“We know they’re going to come at us with a blitz-happy defense,” Grey said. “They’ll be fast and physical. Offensively, they’ve been getting better every week.”
Glacier running back Thomas Trefney has averaged 137 yards rushing per game, while quarterback Leif Ericksen leads the league with an average of 224 aerial yards per game.”
“Ericksen can make plays with the ball in his hands,” Grey said. “We just have to focus on one play at a time, and go out and have some fun. Defensively, we’ve been playing so well. We just have to work on having no mental lapses. Just one play at a time, and we’ll be successful.”
Grey said he has a bittersweet feeling about his seniors and their last chance to play at Naranche.
“I just want them to know how proud I am of what they’ve accomplished and their willingness to work every single day to get better.”