By Bill Foley
This week is Homecoming week at Butte Central.
A week of fun and activities culminate with a football game between the Maroons and the Corvallis Blue Devils at 7 p.m. Friday on Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field. (Radio: KOPR 94.1 FM, kopr94.net or on the KOPR app.)
Butte Central coach Don Peoples Jr. said is team has been all business as it enters a game the team view as a must win.
“It’s always a big event for the student body and the kids have a lot of fun activities,” Peoples said of Homecoming. “I think our kids are excited to be at home after a tough game at Hamilton.”
The unbeaten Broncs beat the Maroons 48-19, dropping BC to 1-3 on the season. (That record includes a forfeit loss to Polson to open the season.)
“Hamilton is good, but we were so disappointed in some things that happened in the game,” Peoples said. “That gave us motivation for this week of practice. We’ve had a really good week of practice, and the kids have approached things with a real serious mentality. So, it’s been good.”
Corvallis comes to town at 0-4 overall and 0-3 in conference. Like with the Maroons, the Blue Devils record has come against some seriously tough competition. The Blue Devils have losses to Hamilton, Dillon, Frenchtown and Kellogg, Idaho. (Butte Central roster; Corvallis roster)
The Maroons also fell to Whitefish. They beat Browning on the road.
“I really look at our schedule, and other than Browning, everyone we played is undefeated,” Peoples said. “They lost to some really good teams, also.”
Senior Chase Tucker is quarterback for the Blue Devils. He has completed 53 percent of his passes for 480 yards in four games. He has three touchdowns but has been picked off 12 times.
Tucker is a threat to run the ball, Peoples said.
“He’s hit some deep balls and he runs hard,” Peoples said. “We have some respect for them because we’ve seen them make good plays against some good teams. I think they’ll be a formidable team.
“They’ve done some good things. They’re big up front. I can’t believe how big the teams in our conference are, the size of the kids.”
Freshman Gideon Boswell leads the team with 13 receptions for 267 yards. He has a pair of touchdowns. Junior Trey Joseph has 11 catches, and classmate Dillen Potter has 10. Potter also caught two TDs.
Sophomore Wyatt Miles leads the team with 23 tackles. Sophomore Isaac Stoker has 20 total tackles, including five four a loss.
The Maroons will go into the game shorthanded, with juniors Dougie Peoples and Eric Loos still out with an injury. Peoples said they are both close, but not quite ready after sitting out last week.
Junior quarterback Luke Garrison, who left the Hamilton game with a leg injury, will be a game-time decision, the coach said.
If Garrison can’t go, the Maroons will roll with sophomore Jack Keeley at quarterback. Keeley ran for a touchdown and threw for another last week.
Peoples said the Maroons are comfortable with Keeley, who was in a position battle with Garrison during the preseason camp.
“They had a pretty good battle,” Peoples said. “Both of those guys were great offseason guys, and they both have some strengths. We have a lot of confidence in Jack. We have a lot confidence in both of them.”
With receiving targets Peoples and Loos out, junior Kyle Holter stepped up in the passing game last week, hauling in four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Zane Moodry, juniors Rye Doherty, Konnor Pochervina and Garrett Button, and senior Eyston Lakkala have caught passes this year.
Pochervina has eight grabs over the last two weeks.
Lakkala and Pochervina also are forces in the running game. Behind linemen Cayden and Kanyon Kibler, Eric Hart, Riley Gelling, Gage Guldseth, and Joe Sehulster, Lakkala has rushed for 189 yards on 47 carries this season.
BC will miss Loos and Peoples on defense, too. The Maroons still have Gelling, Kayden Kibler, Hart and Sehulster up front.
Doherty, Pochervina and Lakkala play linebacker in front of a secondary that includes Keeley, Drew Badovinac, Holter and, possibly, Garrison. Ethan Andersch kicks for BC, and Lakkala handles the punting.
After Friday, the Maroons have three games left on the schedule. They play host to Dillon before heading to Frenchtown. After a week off, BC closes the regular season Oct. 22 at home against Stevensville.
Peoples said that the Maroons will need at least four wins, possibly more to qualify for the playoffs. That means the team is viewing all of its remaining games as must-win situations.
“We know that if we’re going to stay alive, every week is crucial,” Peoples said.
Central’s 33-year head coach enters the game with a record of 199-110 at the school.