Friday’s Butte Central-Belgrade game counts as one of the more important Class A high school football openers in some while, it would appear.
The non-conference clash is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Belgrade’s Jason Green Memorial Field. It is to match two predicted-to-be state contenders. (Radio: KOPR 94.1 FM, online)
Belgrade is the preseason favorite to win the Central A Conference championship and advanced to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Dillon. The Panthers have 21 seniors on their roster.
Meanwhile, Butte Central is being tabbed by a number of onlookers as prime challengers for Dillon’s Southwestern A throne. The Maroons reached last year’s playoffs but fell in the first round at Whitefish. Still, the BC bunch has 16 of 22 starting spots filled by returning starters.
“We’re excited to get on the field,” 26th-year Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. (163-76 in his Maroon tenure) said. “In the first game there are so many unknowns it is hard to figure where we’re at and where Belgrade’s at (in team development). So, it will be exciting to see where our team is.”
The BC squad should be in pretty good shape, having unveiled a big, fast, athletic version before the fans at last weekend’s Maroon-and-White scrimmage. The first-teamers performed very well and if they can remain healthy, an extended season is a very realistic possibility. A need is to develop more depth in the eager, but young, reserve corps.
Likely starters on offense for the opener, Peoples said, are 6-foot, 205-pound senior Liam Doran at center, 6-0, 245-pound junior Jake Michelotti and 6-3, 260-pound junior Ethan St. John at the guards, 5-11, 220-pound senior Tw Bolton and 6-4, 220-pound senior Marcus Ferriter at the tackles, 6-1, 210-pound senior Frank Hendrickson at tight end, 6-2, 185-pound senior Dalton Sessions, 6-1, 190-pound senior Chad Peterson, 6-0, 170-pound junior Cole Harper and 5-8, 160-pound junior Cal Hollow rotating at the receiver spots, 6-2, 220-pound senior Kaemen Richards at H-back, 6-0, 180-pound junior Kyle Harrington at running back and 6-1, 185-pound senior Danny Peoples at quarterback. Peoples will also kick and punt.
Ferriter, Richards, Peoples, Peterson and Bolton are team co-captains. Ferriter, a fourth-year starter, earned All-State honors last year while Richards, Peoples and Peterson all gained All-Southwestern A honors. Doran, Sessions and Hollow were also all-conference honorees.
Coach Peoples announced the defensive starters as Doran and Michelotti as the tackles, Ferriter and Harrington as the ends, Richards and 6-2, 200-pound junior Kyle Schulte as the inside linebackers, 5-10, 165-pound senior Mike Cooney at outside linebacker, Peterson at strong safety, Hollow at free safety, and Harper and Sessions or 5-11, 170-pound junior Colin McArthur at the cornerback spots.
“Everybody is healthy and back in practice,” Peoples said. “We’re excited about that.”
Peoples, the quarterback, is the son of the head coach and is an athletic QB in that he is a superb passer along with being a dangerous runner. The group of receivers is talented and physical, which could be a boon to the running attack as well.
“We want to run the ball better than we have in the last couple of years,” Don Peoples Jr. said. “I think part of being successful is to be a better running team.”
Both units are sure to be tested in the opener. Eric Kinnaman is in his eighth year guiding Belgrade and has put together a strong program.
“We fully expect them to be an outstanding team,” coach Peoples said.
Some reasons include veteran senior quarterback Brayden Konkol and tight end Derek Marks. The Panthers would seem to be very capable in the passing game as Konkol also able to throw to tight end Keldon Lamb and receivers Tanner Campbell, Dillon Marks and speedy Koby Ruff. Belgrade has also been using Ruff at running back. Shane Huntsman is a dependable placekicker for Belgrade.
Fans of both sides should be looking forward to the contest. The players certainly can be expected to be.
“Our kids have put in a long, hard offseason,” Peoples said of the Maroons. “We’re looking forward to getting on the field. It’s always exciting to get the season underway.” 1 comment