Daum return sets tone for victory

The right thing to do was probably fall on the ball.

After Great Falls Russell took a 7-0 lead, Dalton Daum didn’t see the kickoff from CMR’ Tanner Olsen in the blazing sun.

The live ball bounced around as Butte High’s coaches and fans cringed at the sight of the likely disastrous turn of events that was about to take place near the east end zone of Naranche Stadium.

“I thought I was definitely in trouble,” the sophomore said. “I lost it in the sun. It started bouncing around, I look up and there’s a bunch of guys coming at me.”

Somehow, Daum reached down and scooped the ball up with one hand. He made a cut and, just like that, he was gone for a 99-yard touchdown.

It was one of those touchdowns where he was gone by the time he got to his own 10-yard line.

“As soon I broke the first two (tackles) I knew I had to get outside,” Daum said. “As soon as I got outside I knew I was gone.

“I just panicked and found any way to get it,” Daum added. “I was thinking about that, but I had to find a way to make something happen.”

Butte High coach Arie Grey didn’t know what to think when he saw the ball bouncing around helplessly.

“I was thinking ‘What in the world is (assistant coach Steve) Schulte teaching those returners,’ Grey joked. “That kind of set the tone.”

The play was, obviously, one of the longest plays in school history, but it wasn’t a record. That belongs to Joe Phillips, who returned a kick 102 yards in 1907.

Still, Daum’s return was impressive — and scary — enough for the Bulldogs.

“I called it, too,” quarterback Dallas Cook said. “Dalton called it. He said he was going to return that first one. He didn’t,  and I said ‘Dalton, house one for me.’ He housed it.”

Cook, though, wasn’t so confident about his “call” while the ball bounced on the ground. He, too, suspected just falling on the ball was the right move.

“The air went out of me,” Cook said. “I went ‘Oh, we’re going to have a long drive on offense.’ Then … boom. He’s our game breaker. I’m happy he’s a sophomore.”