Butte Central will get a look at a big line and the Southwestern A Conference’s leading rusher Friday when the Maroons play host to Corvallis in high school football. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff on the Bob Green Field at Montana Tech.
Green will be the theme, too, as Butte Central will be honoring St. Patrick Grade School from bygone years. The Maroons’ fans are asked to wear green attire to the game honor Butte’s first Catholic grade school. St. Pat’s alumni will carry the “We Are BC” flag to midfield prior to the game.
Wyatt Haldorson, a 5-foot-7, 150-pound sophomore has been Corvallis’ leader in the Blue Devils’ running game. Haldorson leads the conference with 514 yards in 71 carries to average 128.50 yards a game.
The line he runs behind includes 6-3, 310-pound junior Trey Winters, 6-4, 275-pound senior Luke Channer, 6-2, 275-pound senior Cole Schmitt, 6-2, 255-pound junior Garret Hunt and 6-2, 225-pound sophomore James Shepherd.
“Their running back is the leading back in the conference,” BC head coach Don Peoples Jr. said. “And, he’s a nice runner. They pass a little bit with (Spencer) Jessop at quarterback and they have huge kids up front. Their strength has been their running game, for sure.”
Jessop is a 6-4, 215-pound senior, who brings good size, strength and athleticism to the position. When he does throw, it is usually to Danner Miller or Zach Jessop.
Corvallis’ Cayden Ayers is the top kicker in the league.
Though the Blue Devils are winless, Peoples said their record is deceiving in that they barely lost to Polson and gave Hamilton a tough game until late when the Broncs tacked on two touchdowns that widened the gap at the end of the game.
“We expect a tough game,” Peoples said.
Butte Central is 1-0 in league play after last week’s 53-16 victory at Stevensville. The Maroons are 4-1 overall. Corvallis, 0-1 and 04, absorbed a 55-7 defeat against Whitefish.
Butte Central leaders include juniors Blake Burton and Nate McGree in rushing with both ranking in the league’s top 10. Junior quarterback Tanner Kump is the No. 2 passer in the Southwestern A with 62 completions in 115 attempts, a 54 percent rate with nine touchdowns and 1,017 yards, averaging 203.40 yards per game and 16.40 per completion. Jessop has the same completion rate, but about half the yardage, indicating Corvallis’ preference for a shorter passing game.
BC’s Cole Harper, Cal Hollow and McGree all rank among the conference top 10 receivers.
Defensively, McGree leads the conference in interceptions with three while Kyle Schulte is No. 2 in punting and Hollow is Southwestern A’s most dangerous returner of kickoffs.
“We need more consistency on the offensive side of the line,” Peoples said. “They played really well against Laurel, but then had some assignment mistakes last week. If we can get those things cleaned up, they can be one of the best offensive lines in Montana.”
Peoples said the line should be bolstered by the return of Archie Petritz from a knee injury suffered just before the start of the season. The 6-0, 195-pound junior could see time at center and as a tight end in tight end sets.
“We felt like our passing game went well last week,” Peoples said of the big win over Stevensville that featured Kump throwing for 361 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. “But we didn’t run the ball like we thought we should have.
“We haven’t put that complete game together (offensively, defensively or combined). But we have to as we get down to the homestretch. All of the games are now so important for the power rankings and the wild cards.”
Butte Central sits ninth in the power rankings, due much to having played just one winning team so far. It was a 25-18 loss to Laurel. Games against higher ranked teams Polson, Hamilton and Dillon remain on the regular-season schedule. The top six teams from the combined Northwestern and Southwestern Conferences will qualify for the postseason, as will the top six from the Central and Eastern combined.
Offensive line starters for Friday will be Dylan Shea at center, Jake Michelotti and Ryan Richards at the guards, and Ethan St. John and Schulte at the tackles with Petritz rotating in on relief. Colin McArthur is the tight end while Harper, Hollow, McGree and Sam Johnston alternate at the wideouts. Ryan Moodry is at fullback in power sets and Burton starts at running back. Kump is the quarterback.
On defense, Michelotti, Richards and St. John see time at tackles while McArthur and Schulte are at the ends with St. John sometimes filling in for relief. Moodry starts at one inside linebacker while Burton shares the other with Hunter Hartwick. Hollow and Johnston are on the outside, Ryan Ashby and Harper man the corners with McGree playing safety.
Schulte is the punter. Kicker Tyler Kump will miss the game to compete in the Class A State golf tournament in Sidney.