By Butte High School Football
Coming into last week’s matchup between Butte High (5-1, 4-0) and Missoula Sentinel (4-2, 4-1) there wasn’t a player on the Bulldogs varsity roster that was able to say they had a win over the Spartans at any point in their tenure at Butte High School.
And ten seconds into the game it looked as if we were in for more of the same. On the first play from scrimmage a Bo Demarais (12-26, 155 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) screen pass was picked off and taken to the house to give Sentinel an early 7-0 lead.
But if there is one thing, we’ve learned about the 2023 version of the Butte High Bulldogs it’s their unbelievable ability to bounce back, their resiliency, their almost “pitchers like mentality.”
After a lengthy drive the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs.
Down 7-0 without seeing the field yet the Bulldogs defense took the field and forced a Spartans punt.
Demarais would lead his team down the field with a 50-yard catch and run to Rueso Battermann but would be denied once again this time on the Sentinel 3-yard line (their only failed red zone attempt of the night).
On the ensuing drive Luke Verlanic (13 tackles, two forced fumbles) caused a fumble, recovered by Will Stepan and from that point forward the Bulldogs had control of the game.
You could feel their resiliency and that “pitcher’s mentality” had turned in to “a boxer’s mentality.”
Because after that fumble recovery and Karson Pumnea’s 29-yard touchdown run to tie the game they threw haymakers, jabs and uppercuts for the following three quarters.
To win football games in October and November you have to have the ability to run the ball and stop the run.
In all the Bulldogs ran for 322 yards on 54 carries. The “Thunder and Lightning” duo of Trey Hansen (115 yards, TD) and Punmea (157 yards, 2 TD) combined for 272 while senior quarterback, and newly crowned Homecoming King Demarais chipped in with 52 yards of his own and three scores on the ground.
The Bulldogs dominated time of possession thanks in part to the offensive line that grinded, pushed and opened holes for that run game.
But that Bulldog defense, just as it does every week showed up, stepped up and shut down the Sentinel run game allowing only 122 yards.
The ball hawking secondary led by Verlanic, Tocher Lee and Torre Tempel (both whom had interceptions) kept the always dangerous Spartans air game in check.
Kyler Stenson had a sack and batted down four balls at the line of scrimmage and when a ball carrier got passed the initial wave of Bulldog defenders Adien Cuchine (7 tackles) and Nolan Casey ( were there to stop them short of the line to gain.
The 35 points Sentinel had on the board was no indication of how well the Bulldogs motivated defense played. Once again making crucial stops in crucial situations and creating turnovers (five in all).
The Bulldogs, who seemed to be up by three scores all game had just pulled off a win against a conference rival and did so in convincing fashion.
They now control their own destiny as we hit the final leg of the regular season.
Coming off a 41-0 loss to Missoula Big Sky the road doesn’t get any easier for the Missoula Hellgate Knights (0-6, 0-4) as they take on Butte High.
The Sophomore heavy squad have been outscored this year by a whopping 250 points, have been shut out three times and the only points scored in the last 12 quarters they have played is due to a Safety.
Although they do take care of the ball (only 8 turnovers all season) they struggle moving it as they average just 164 yards of total offense a game and WR Parker Link is responsible for a third of that production. Link is also their leading tackler.
It’s a tradition like no other. It’s the 84th annual Silver B’s induction ceremony. It’s the Knights and Bulldogs. It’s Friday night and it’s at 7:30pm only at The House that Legends Built.
: The NFHS Network
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