Maroons begin key stretch against Polson

By Bruce Sayler

A formidable row of opponents for Butte Central begins this weekend in Class A high school football with the Maroons playing host to Polson on Friday night.

The BC team will be holding a ceremony honoring St. Mary’s Grade School before the game and will be wearing the St. Mary’s colors — blue and white — when the kickoff versus the Pirates is held at 7 p.m. on the Bob Green Field at Montana Tech. Maroon fans are encouraged to wear and blue and white to the game. St. Mary’s opened in 1904 and operated until merging with St. Lawrence in 1967. The Parish schools closed in 1969. Butte Central administration said St. Mary’s alumni are invited to participate in pregame ceremonies including a prayer at 6:05 at the stadium. They are to also participate in the presentation of the “We Are BC” flag to midfield prior to the team taking the field. The St. Mary’s alumni are asked to assemble on the field near the Maroon helmet and tunnel at 6:30.

The 4-1 Polson club is followed on the schedule by Hamilton next week and Dillon in the regular-season finale the week after.

Friday’s Butte Central-Polson contest will be a non-conference clash, but could have serious bearing on the playoff scene.

“We’re in good shape as far as the wild card goes,” Don Peoples Jr., head coach of the 4-2 Maroons, said while talking about the power point system Class A employs to determine postseason berths. “But this game could have a huge impact on seedings, power points and ratings. Our power rating is pretty good and a win could really help solidify our position.”

Peoples said he believed Polson, Hamilton and Dillon are all among the top six or seven teams in Class A, making for some key end-of-season matchups, starting with Friday’s.

The Pirate wins have been over Corvallis, Whitefish, Hamilton and Frenchtown. Their only loss was to Dillon.

“They are good,” Peoples said. “They are real athletic and they have good size. Their quarterback, Tanner Wilson, and (Matthew) Rensvold have both committed to play for the Grizzlies, we’ve been told.

“Wilson really hurt us last year, so we have a lot of respect for him. And, Rensvold was on the receiving end of a couple of Wilson’s touchdown passes.”

Wilson is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior and the son of veteran Polson head coach Scott Wilson. Wilson plays in the secondary on defense. Rensvold is a 6-4, 210-pound tight end, who also splits out wide. He mans middle linebacker on defense.

“He’s a force,” Peoples said.

Another defensive star is linebacker Jonah Burke, Peoples said. Burke is athletic enough to play linebacker even though he checks in at 6-3, 235.

“They’ll be a big challenge for us,” Peoples said.

The BC team has strung together two consecutive impressive wins over Stevensville and Corvallis to build a 2-0 Southwestern A Conference record.

“We have some confidence,” Peoples said. “We’re putting some things together.

“Against Polson, we have to play great defense. We have to limit their big plays. Offensively, we have to finish drives.”

Butte Central would like to own the ball most of the game, but if it can tally a big-play strike, it would certainly tkae it. The Maroons have explosive capabilities and big games this fall by seniors Blake Burton, Nate McGree, Sam Johnston and quarterback Tanner Kump lend proof. Each has played in a starring role or roles this season.

Peoples said the team has been recovering well in the injury department and that junior guard Zeb Antonioli has returned to practice and been cleared to play against Polson. The 6-3, 275-pound junior missed two games bouncing back from a concussion. Peoples said Antonioli will see limited play, sharing a guard spot on offense with junior Shane Callahan and freshman Aaron Richards. Junior Dylan Shea will be at center with senior Ryan Richards at the other guard. Seniors Archie Petritz and Paul Thomas LaFleur man the tackles. Junior Saxon Walton also sees time on the line. Senior Chay Bouchee is at tight end while the rotating receivers include Johnston, McGree, senior Ryan Ashby and sophomore Cade Holter. Burton, junior Ryan Moodry and sophomore Clay Fisher all see action as running backs. Kump is the quarterback, backed up by Holter. Moodry kicks and punts.

The defensive unit sees Both Richardses, Antonioli, LaFleur and Callahan at alternating at tackles with Shea, Petritz, Colter Stillwagon, Walton and Aaron Richards switching off at ends. Moodry and junior Hunter Hartwick are the starting inside linebackers, supported by Shea and Ryan McGee. Jared Schneider and Burton play outside linebacker roles with several already mentioned available for backup. Johnston and Ashby are the cornerbacks with McGree at safety. Fisher, Holter and Kump can also help out in the secondary.

“Last year, we thought we played very poorly at Polson,” Peoples said. “The kids are taking pride

In playing them at home this time. They’re excited.

“We practiced in our St. Mary’s uniforms tonight (Thursday) and we’re excited to play at home again.”