By Bruce Sayler
The big game tradition continues Friday for Butte Central and Dillon high school football collisions.
The two southwest Montana close-by rivals, both undefeated entering the halfway point of the regular season, will pad up for plenty reason again on Friday. They will open the Southwestern A Conference portion of their respective schedules with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Dillon’s Vigilante Field. (Radio: 94.1 FM or online)
Butte Central packs a 3-0 record with lopsided on-conference victories against Ronan, Whitefish and Libby. Reigning state Class A champion Dillon, also the owner of a 3-0 record, left Columbia Falls, Ronan and Polson in its non-conference wake.
“It’s amazing what they do,” Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. said of the Beavers. “They graduated 22 or 23 seniors, all good players, from last year’s team, and they just seem to reload every year. They’re amazing.
“All three of their games this year, they executed well. They use the same offensive and defensive systems they always have and still execute them. It’s a great football program.”
This year’s Dillon roster sports 15 seniors for head coach Rick Nordahl and staff. Coby King moved into the quarterback role after being a slotback in the Beavers’ offense last year. Main threats include receiver Brent Tezak and 240-pound running back Graden Greenslade.
However, they are hardly alone in the arsenal.
“I think you have to move the chains on them,” Peoples said, referring to the attempted ploy of keeping the ball away from Dillon’s offense. “You have to limit their opportunities. Their quarterback, King, has played well. Their running back, Greenslade, is a load, so we have to limit his touches.
“Then, they’re so solid on defense. We have to move the chains and contain their quarterback, their running back and their wide receiver, Tezak. They have only a couple of starters back but they have a lot of kids who have played before. They were able to get experience late in games the last couple of seasons with Dillon getting big leads.”
Southwestern A stats figured by Brian Reed for the Nw mta site show King second in passing yards with 492 on 40-of-79 passing, Greenslade with 135 yards rushing for eighth place and Tezak with 186 receiving yards for third place.
Defensively for the Beavers, Tezak averages 12 tackles a game, 6-foot-8, 210-pound lineman Clay Allison averages 10, Tyler Walker averages 10 and Greenslade averages nine, playing linebacker. Zane Johnson has three sacks and Gabe Kirkley leads the team in interceptions with two.
The returns standings show Tezak ranking third, one spot behind Butte Central junior Clay Fisher.
Also, for the Maroons, junior quarterback Clay Holter ranks third with 361 yards, completing 22 of 30 attempts. Ryan Moodry is second in rushing with 320 yards, Holter is fifth with 187 and Fisher seventh with 69. Holter averages almost eight yards a carry. Thomas McGree is sixth in receving yards with 106 while averaging almost 24 yards a catch. Cornerback Aidan Petritz leads the league with five interceptions, three of which were picked in last week’s win over Libby.
“We’re excited about where we’re at,” Peoples said of the BC team’s progress this fall. “Our preseason worked out great. Our first-time varsity kids learned how to play varsity football, and gain some experience and confidence.
“But, I think our kids are realistic, too. They know our first three opponents had one win between them and our next three have one loss between them. The kids are excited for the challenge. They will go down there and play as hard as they can.”
Peoples said the rivalry element always makes a game so big, so much bigger. He added the Butte Central huddle remains intact with nobody missing time for injuries.
“We all have respect for them and their program,” Peoples said about the Beavers. “And, we are all excited for the challenge.”
The Maroons’ probable starters follow:
Offense — Center – Saxon Walton, 6-2, 195, senior. Guards — Zeb Antonioli, 6-3, 285, senior, and Seth Gardner, 6-3, 270, junior. Tackles — Hunter Hartwick, 5-10, 180, senior, and Aaron Richards, 6-4, 250, sophomore. Tight end — Matt Simkins, 6-4, 185, sophomore. Wide receivers — Allen Boyle, 5-11, 165, senior, and Thomas McGree, 5-11, 170, sophomore. Running backs — Ryan Moodry, 5-10, 190, senior, and Clay Fisher, 5-9, 165, junior, or Dylan Shea, 5-10, 170, senior. Quarterback — Cade Holter, 6-0, 175, junior.
Defense — Tackles — Zeb Antonioli, 6-3, 285, senior, and Aaron Richards, 6-4, 250, sophomore. Ends — Hunter Hartwick, 5-10, 180, senior, and Matt Simkins, 6-4, 185, sophomore. Linebackers — Ryan Moodry, 5-10, 190, senior; Clay Fisher, 5-9, 165, junior; and Dylan Shea, 5-10, 170, senior. Cornerbacks — Allen Boyle, 5-11, 165, senior, and Aidan Petritz, 6-0, 170, junior. Safeties — Cade Holter, 6-0, 175, junior, and Thomas McGree, 5-11, 170, sophomore.