Maroons challenge reigning state champs for homecoming

Maroons challenge reigning state champs for homecoming

By Bruce Sayler

Traditionally, football teams line up against opponents of lesser success reputation to go against for homecoming and look good for the alumni.

Butte Central, though, must relish a challenge.

The Maroons are taking on top-ranked, undefeated reigning state Class A champion Hamilton for homecoming Friday night in a Western A Conference high school game slated for 7 o’clock at Bob Green Field on the Montana Tech campus.

“Hamilton is an outstanding football program and has been for many years,” Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. said. “They are very well-coached, they’re big and their players can play real solid football.

“They’ve been so good at quarterback the last several years with the Rostads (current Montana Grizzly players Carson and Tyson Rostad) and now they have a Bauder, which is another big name in Hamilton athletics.”

Tyson Bauder is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior who counts among many young veterans in the Broncs huddles. Hamilton won the state A title with the use of several sophomores, who are now returnees as juniors. Many play in the line.

“Bauder has good speed and runs the ball very well,” Peoples said.

Hamilton has compiled wins of 35-0 over Corvallis, 34-7 over Dillon and 27-20 over Frenchtown thus far this season. The Maroons lost 49-14 to Polson, beat Browning 51-12 and are coming off of a 34-20 loss at Whitefish continuing a mostly rugged stretch on the early part of the schedule.

The game versus Whitefish saw BC give up two turnovers the Bulldogs turned into touchdowns in the first quarter while taking a 21-0 lead. Butte Central was forced to play uphill the rest of the way and pulled to within 27-20 before being burned by a big-play Whitefish TD late in the contest.

Former Dillon standout and University of Montana receiver Bryce Carver, who coached the West Team to the Shrine Game victory last summer, heads the Hamilton program and presents an uptempo pace on both sides of the ball as the Broncs seek their 15th straight win.

“Defensively, they’ll use a variety of looks and blitzes,” Peoples said. “They blitz hard. It is really a high-pressure defense.

“We’ll have to do a good job of picking up their blitz package. They’re so aggressive.”

The biggest Bronc is 6-2, 340-pound senior lineman A.J. McGouldrick. Some big juniors bolster his presence with the likes of 6-2, 250-pound junior Andrew Burrows, 5-8, 235-pound Blake Hoerner, 6-0, 230-pound Trevor Lewis and 6-0, 220-pound Giuseppe Eldridge. They help open doors for the strike-fast offense.

“They run the ball hard and that is the strength of their offense,” Peoples said. “They can pass well, but they really run the ball out of a one-back set.”

Bauder and running  back Andrew Frederick spark the Hamilton running game while Taylor Searle and Eli Searle lead the receiving corps.

An early-season injury to running back Konnor Pochervina, a good-passing quarterback in Jack Keeley and a stable of star-quality receivers in Kyle Holter, Eric Loos, Dougie Peoples, Zane Moodry and Rye Doherty has meant a little more emphasis on the passing game for Butte Central’s offense.

Pochervina, though, is just about all healed from an ankle sprain, coach Peoples said, and the attack may be more balanced. The multi-talented Holter ran the ball well while filling in for Pochervina, however.

“The kids are excited for the challenge,” Peoples said. “We get better each week. We’ll have to be ready to play against Hamilton. We’ll have to start fast and be ready.

“We really like the way Jack is playing quarterback. He’s finding his receivers and, last week, was outstanding running the ball. Konnor is really improved (from injury) this week.”

Allowance of a handful of big plays the first three games have stung the BC team, which could maybe have been 2-1 for the season going into Friday, instead of 1-2. Even in the game against Polson, a couple of Butte Central mistakes helped the Pirates widen the gap. So, the Maroons’ chances this week might be better than one would expect looking only at final results.

Obviously, game focus and elimination of errors have been practice themes with Hamilton up next on this week’s schedule.

Peoples said the players have responded well.

“The kids are really excited to play against them,” the coach said. “We need to find a way to get some W’s this month.”

Offensive starters for Butte Central, Peoples said, are to be Ayden Durkin at center, Cayden Kibler and Dawson Rodgers at the guards, Riley Gelling and Tanner Keith at tackles, Loos at tight end, Holter, Dougie Peoples, Moodry and Doherty rotating through wide-receiver assignments, Pochervina at running back and Keeley at quarterback.

The defense is to be, according to the coach, Kibler and Michael Peck at the tackles, Gelling and Loos at the ends, Doherty, Moodry and Pochervina at the linebackers, Holter and Keeley at the corners, and Justus McGee and Jake Tauscher at the safeties. Peoples will also see time in the secondary.

Ethan Andersch is a strong-legged, accurate kicker, and Moodry ably handles the punting duties.


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