Butte High opens its home football season Friday evening at 7 p.m. when the Bulldogs play host to the Helena Capital Bruins at Naranche Stadium. (Radio: KBOW 550 AM, 101.5, online)
Butte is coming off a tough 30-27 loss in an opening-week road game at Billings Senior, while the Bruins were 36-6 victors over Missoula Hellgate last Friday.
Despite the loss, Butte High head coach Arie Grey saw plenty to build on only one week removed from the start of the regular season.
“We took a lot of good things from that game,” he said. “Now we need to make the jump from week one to week two.”
Defensively, senior captain Ty Wonnacott showed Grey that he’s the real deal.
“Wonno played really well,” Grey said. “He got to the ball and made some good tackles, but we expected that from him. The great thing is he gets the opportunity to be better on Friday night.”
Offensively, Grey was pleased with the depth shown, especially at receiver.
“We had some guys step up,” Grey said, referring to Connor Lane, Kiley Caprara, Paul Campbell and Dalton Daum. “Again, that’s something we expect. When you throw the ball 40-plus times you need someone to step up, and we want it to be someone different every week.”
Butte’s coaches were busy this week shoring up the areas that were identified as needing improvement, including special teams, where the Bulldogs made mistakes last week.
“Especially against Capital, we’re going to need to give them a longer field on special teams,” Grey said. “Capital is a well-coached team that plays well in all three phases. They’re disciplined and they play hard-nosed football. Defensively they make you make mistakes and offensively they do a phenomenal job creating angles and getting their backs to the next level.”
Grey looks for improvement from his offense this weekend.
“We’ve got to be able to run the ball better. We have to put the running game together,” he said. “Defensively we need to tackle better and know our assignments. And we have to improve on special teams.”
Butte High’s players and coaches spent the week mourning the loss of former Bulldog standout Bo Taylor, and have found a way to honor his memory.
“You look at what Bo was all about, and he was a kid with a great motor who played hard every play,” Grey said, noting that he and his staff will select a player every week this season to wear Taylor’s number 35 jersey. “We’ll give the honor of wearing that number to someone who earns it by working hard and playing every play.”
Grey said his team has handled the week well and is looking forward to playing at home.
“We’ve got the best stadium and the best fans in America,” Grey said with a smile. “It’s a great opportunity for us.”