That brutal non-conference schedule was all for this.
Butte Central heads into Friday’s 7 p.m. homecoming football game against Anaconda at the East Middle School stadium with a 1-3 record. But the Maroons enter the Southwestern A season a battle tested bunch after playing the likes of Billings Central and Laurel.
Friday, the games start counting toward the playoff race, making the BC-Anaconda tilt is a big one. Throw in some bad blood and a long, heated rivalry into the mix and Friday night has the potential to be an intense night on the gridiron. (KOPR, 94.1 FM. Click here to listen online.)
“It’s a huge game,” BC coach Don Peoples Jr. said Thursday. “The loser of this game will have a hard time making the playoffs.”
The Copperheads come to town with a 2-2 record after last week’s 22-7 home loss to Polson. The Copperheads beat Hardin and Browning. Like BC, they lost big to No. 1 Billings Central.
Butte Central comes into Friday’s game after losing 51-37 at No. 2 Laurel last week. Butte Central, though, left that game brimming with confidence after outscoring the Locomotives 30-14 in the second half. BC turned a 37-7 halftime deficit into a 37-30 game in the fourth quarter.
“We don’t believe in moral victories,” Peoples said. “But we could have easily folded the tent, and the kids responded. It wasn’t one of those things where we made adjustments, either. We just played better. We eliminated mistakes on both sides of the ball.”
Senior quarterback Brady Tippet passed for nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in four games. this season. He’s also run for a pair of scores.
Tippett has a group of receivers that seems to get better each game.
Junior tight end Connor McGree and junior wide out Kale Guldseth lead the way. Guldseth scored a touchdown in each game, while McGree caught three TD passes.
Senior Joe Joyce averages 4.6 yards per carry behind linemen Frank Joyce, Kolten Lamiaux, Brant Ahlborn, Connor Schulte, Liam Doran and Marcus Ferriter.
Doran started the last two games while Ahlborn was out with a concussion. Ahlborn will be back in the starting lineup Friday. Doran, a sophomore, will still contribute on the defensive line.
Peoples said the Copperhead defense is solid.
“They’re stout against the run,” Peoples said. “They’ll present a good challenge for our offense.”
Offensively, the Copperheads have some big-time weapons, too.
Eric Boyd has completed 50 percent of his passes for 457 yards. He’s also averaging more than 4 yards per carry.
“Eric Boyd is a very good quarterback,” Peoples said. “He’s dangerous. He can make some big plays.”
Ethan Reich and Dylan Flack have been solid running the ball, while Cory Stanberry and Skyler Allen have made big plays catching the ball.
Defensively, the Maroons have given up 155 points in the non-conference season. Of course, 103 of those came the last two weeks against the top two ranked teams in the Class A.
The Maroons feel they are much better than the stats.
Schulte, Frank Joyce, Ferriter and McGree give BC a solid front four in front of linebackers Kaemen Richards, Ben Holt and Kingston.
Joe Joyce, Tippett, Guldseth and Northy Tretheway give the Maroons a quick, athletic secondary.
Peoples said he expects a tough battle with the Copperheads, even though the Maroons have won big in games against Anaconda the last several years.
The Maroons have won five straight over the Copperheads, winning by an average of 45-10 over that span. BC has not lost to Anaconda since 2006.
“They’re a real solid football team,” Peoples said.
Butte Central plays at Stevensville next week.
Butte Central Maroons
Don Peoples Jr. (24th season)
QB — Brady Tippett, 5-11, 180, sr
RB — Joe Joyce, 5-10, 170, sr; Wyatt Kingston, 5-9, 170 jr
WR — Kale Guldseth, 5-8, 140, jr; Chad Peterson, 5-10, 160, so; Dalton Sessions, 6-0, 175, so; Northey Tretheway, 5-7, 155, sr
TE — Connor McGree, 6-2, 215, jr
C — Frank Joyce, 5-10, 220, sr
G —Kolten Lamiaux, 6-1, 260, sr; Brant Ahlborn, 6-3, 276, jr
T — Connor Schulte, 5-10, 220, jr; Marcus Ferriter, 6-4, 215, so
T — Schulte; Frank Joyce
E — Ferriter; McGree
ILB — Kaemen Richards, 6-1, 195, so
OLB — Ben Holt, 5-9, 188, so, Kingston
FS — Tippett
SS — Joe Joyce
C — Guldseth; Tretheway