‘Dogs open grid season hosting Broncs

The Bulldogs are back in the doghouse, and they couldn’t be happier.

Butte High’s football team will take to the friendly turf of Naranche Stadium Friday night as the ’Dogs open defense of their 2012 State Class AA grid title with a 7 p.m. kickoff against Billings Senior. (KBOW 550 AM, 101.5 FM; listen online)

Butte’s last game with Senior was a doozie. The teams shattered the century mark point-wise as Butte High escaped Daylis Stadium following a 62-51 shootout. Butte High head coach Arie Grey expects another stiff test from the Broncs.

“Offensively, they’re salty and talented,” Grey observed. “And they’ve changed schemes on defense so it will be a look we haven’t seen.”

Butte High graduated much of the talent from its championship squad, but Grey likes the changing dynamic of his team.

“A lot of our guys have different roles than they had last year,” he said Wednesday after the team’s evening practice at Naranche Stadium. “A lot of our experienced players are the guys who our younger players can lean on, but at some point, they were all out here for the first time. Every team is dealing with different guys in different roles, though. The key will be who settles in and relaxes and plays some football, they’ll be the most successful.”

Still, for a coach who’s looking for a relaxed team, Grey is one who expects a lot of hard work from his players. The Bulldog football practices are the picture of activity, as very little standing around occurs.

“We try to get in as many reps as we can at practice,” Grey said, noting that the Bulldogs aim for 70 plays per game and 120-130 plays per practice. “The more reps you get, the better you’re going to be.”

That’s especially true for the offense, which is led by senior quarterback Dallas Cook, last season’s Class AA offensive most valuable player.

“Dallas has grown so much and he’s been a very vocal leader,” Grey observed. “He’s taken on more of an ownership in practice. I’m proud of him and how he’s come into his role.”

Cook, whose 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame could put him on the offensive line, will line up behind a largely untested group of blockers, led by lone returning starter Dustin LaMiaux at center. It’s a good-size athletic crew, however, including seniors Johnny Walker, Tyler Leary and Ryan Griner, and junior Jake Urich. The line averages about 230 pounds, and is a good, athletich group, Grey said.

“Dusty has done a great job as a leader,” Grey said. “The line has had a lot of pressure on them, but they’re playing well. They’re getting better every day, and that’s all we ask; to win the day.”

As a junior tight end, Tyler Earles caught four passes for 147 yards in the 2012 win over Senior, including a 97-yarder from Cook. Earles also registered a safety from his position at defensive end. As a senior, big No. 88 will again be a key player on both sides of the ball.

“Tyler gives us a nice big target to throw at,” Grey said of the 6-4, 200-pounder.

Cook has a number of targets, all of whom move pretty fast. The quickest of the bunch is junior Dalton Daum.

“Dalton has that one thing you can’t coach – speed,” Grey said.

Joining the receiving corps is 6-4, 190-pound senior Peter Granger, along with Cory Farstveet (6-4, 185 sr.), Paul Campbell (5-11, 155 so.) and Chase Plum (6-0, 160 sr.).

“We’ve got some good size and some athletic kids there,” Grey said of his receivers.

Butte also has the benefit of a proven running back with the return of Jake Eisenbarth, a 5-7, 160-pound senior.

“Jake is one of the smartest kids we’ve got,” Grey said. “He has great vision and he runs extremely hard. He’s one of the hardest workers we have and it’s great to have him back.”

Butte’s defense isn’t blessed with excessive size, but many of the starters saw plenty of action last season as juniors, and Grey is impressed with what he’s seen thus far.

Plum and Daum anchor the last line at safety, while Jason Vesco (5-9, 155 sr.) and Boomer Peters (5-10, 145 sr.) man the corners.

“They’ve got good speed and they’ll hit you,” Grey noted of the backfield.

Inside linebacker Mason Woods (6-1, 205 sr.) brings plenty of experience and leadership, while Grey said that Keiffer Hepola (5-8, 190 sr.) has a great understanding of the position. Sophomore Cian Randall is also expected to see plenty of time in the middle of the defense.

Farstveet and Granger will man the outside linebacker positions, utilizing their speed and reach, while Ryan Evans will get plenty of downs at the spot as well.

Walker steps in at nose, while Connor Lee (6-1, 240 sr.) and Earles play the ends in the defensive front.

“We’re not huge up there, but they’re all experienced,” Grey said. “They’ll plug up the front and be effective on both runs and applying pressure.”

Butte’s special teams are led by freshman Sean Staples, who at 5-6, 115 pounds has a very strong and accurate kicking leg.

“Sean’s about the most relaxed guy out there,” Grey said, “but he’s also such a hard worker. He’s improving every day and he takes a lot of pride in what he does. I like to see that.”

Daum and Dylan Cook are both seeing time as punters, while the Bulldogs look to a host of players who will be utilized as returners, including Eisenbarth, Daum, Vesco and Plum.

Billings Senior mirrors Butte in many ways. The offense utilizes the no-huddle approach, and the Broncs have a relatively untested line. Senior quarterback Joe Zimmer spent most of last season at receiver, but did pull off a couple of touchdown passes in the Broncs’ loss to Butte High.

The Broncs will rely heavily on big running back Wade Cicierski, while receivers Brennan Nielson and Levi Beck give Zimmer an option downfield. Tight end Scottie Crigler’s size and speed have earned respect as well.

“They’ll run and throw,” Grey said. “Their offense is salty and talented, and it should make a great matchup for us right off the bat.”

Senior’s defense has been altered to a 4-2-5 look, something the Bulldogs haven’t seen thus far.

“That’s kind of an unknown,” Grey said of the Bronc defense. “We’ll have to just settle in and take what they give us.”

Naranche has been a good home venue for Butte High. Since the field reopened two seasons ago – after a 37-year hiatus – Butte owns an 11-1 record on the historic plot, with two of the most exciting victories coming in the final two weeks of last season’s title run.

“The crowd here really is our 12th man,” Grey said. “They’re quiet when we’re on offense and they make noise for our defense. They know what they’re doing and they’ve created a lot of turnovers and penalties for us.

“This is such a great place to play. It has to be one of the best venues around.” 1 comment



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  • 16's Pop
    August 30, 2013, 8:32 am

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