The Maroons are counting on their amazing bounce-back ability to shine through Saturday.
Their postseason lives will depend on it.
Butte Central hits the road Saturday to take on Frenchtown in the first round of the Class A football playoffs. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. (KOPR 94.1 FM. Click here to listen online.)
The Maroons (4-5) are the No. 3 seed out of the Central A Division. The Broncs (5-2) are No. 2 out of the Northwestern A. Both teams are back in the playoffs after a rare break from postseason action. The Maroons missed the playoffs last season for the first time in a decade.
Butte Central advanced to the semifinals the last two times the made the playoffs. The Maroons fell at Frenchtown in the 2009 semifinals. The Broncs won the state title that year.
The Maroons, who went 3-2 in league play, aren’t exactly heading into the playoffs on a high note. The Maroons fell 58-13 at home to defending Class A state champion Dillon last Friday night.
Still, Butte Central coach Don Peoples Jr. said his Maroons are upbeat and ready to go for the second season.
“We’re excited,” Peoples said. “They’ve been resilient this year. Last week’s game didn’t go how we wanted it to, but (Dillon) has done that to everybody on their schedule. Every time we’ve been knocked down this year, we got back up.”
The Maroons head into the playoffs looking to take advantage of every opportunity in 2012. They also do so with an eye on the future.
Butte Central is an extremely young team. Five seniors lead the Maroons into action, and only four will play. Senior lineman Kolten Lamiaux is still out after suffering a concussion.
Quarterback Brady Tippett guides the Maroons after a solid senior campaign. Tippett needs just 13 yards passing to break the 2,000-yard mark. He’s passed for 19 touchdowns and ran for 10 more.
He also has some pretty solid weapons. Juniors Kale Guldseth and Connor McGree, the tight end, are the top BC receivers. Both made strong cases for postseason accolades.
In the regular season, Guldseth caught a team-record 59 passes for 764 yards and eight touchdowns. Montana Grizzly Jonathan Richards caught 55 passes in 2009.
McGree hauled in 43 passes for 732 yards and seven scores.
The Maroons get another weapon back in the form of junior Wyatt Kingston, a running back who caught 28 passes out of the backfield. Kingston missed last week after breaking his wrist the week before in Corvallis. Senior Northey Tretheway and sophomores Chad Peterson and Dalton Sessions have been options in the passing game, too.
The Maroons’ offensive line has been solid all season, even though it was pretty much without a starter every game. Brant Ahlborn also missed time with a concussion.
Ahlborn will start up front along with senior Frank Joyce, junior Connor Schulte and sophomores Liam Doran and Marcus Ferriter.
Peoples said taking advantage of scoring opportunities is key for the Maroons, who face a wishbone offense that typically dominates time of possession.
“We have to score,” Peoples said. “We moved the ball on everybody all season long. Even last week we moved the ball. We’ve got to do a better job finishing.”
Defensively, the Maroons will have to stop the run. With senior running backs Dan Lebsock and Logan Fisher and senior quarterback John Chapman, the Broncs have an abundance of threats carrying the football.
Under first-year head coach Kyle Rausch, the Broncs also sneak attack with an occasional deep ball. Rausch, a 2003 Montana Western graduate who spent time on the BC coaching staff, played at Frenchtown for legendary coach Tim Racicot.
“It’s the same offense that Coach Racicot ran in the 1970s and 80s,” Peoples said. “They don’t throw the ball a lot. They lull you to death with the running game and hit you with the play-action pass. Their completion percentage is really high.”
The defense charged with stopping that is led up front by Frank Joyce, Schulte, Ferriter and McGree. Kaemen Richards, Ben Holt and Kingston are the linebackers. Peterson has also seen time there.
The secondary is made up of sophomore Danny Peoples, who is close to full strength after hurting his knee in Corvallis, Joe Joyce, Guldseth and Tretheway.
The winner of the game hits the road next week to take on No. 1-ranked Billings Central.
Butte Central Maroons
Don Peoples Jr. (24th season)
QB — Brady Tippett, 5-11, 180, sr
RB — Joe Joyce, 5-10, 170, sr; Wyatt Kingston, 5-9, 170 jr
WR — Kale Guldseth, 5-8, 140, jr; Chad Peterson, 5-10, 160, so; Dalton Sessions, 6-0, 175, so; Northey Tretheway, 5-7, 155, sr
TE — Connor McGree, 6-2, 215, jr
C — Liam Doran, 5-2, 195, so
G —Frank Joyce, 5-10, 220, sr; Brant Ahlborn, 6-3, 276, jr
T — Connor Schulte, 5-10, 220, jr; Marcus Ferriter, 6-4, 215, so
T — Schulte; Frank Joyce
E — Ferriter; McGree
ILB — Kaemen Richards, 6-1, 195, so
OLB — Ben Holt, 5-9, 188, so, Kingston
FS — Danny Peoples, 5-11, 155, so
SS — Joe Joyce
C — Guldseth; Tretheway
Butte Central game-by-game results
vs. Belgrade, L 20-33
at Havre, W 61-19
vs. Billings Central, L 6-52
at Laurel, L 37-51
vs. Anaconda, L 27-28
at Stevensville, W 31-13
vs. Hamilton, W 52-29
at Corvallis, W 50-20
vs. Dillon, L 13-58
Frenchtown game-by game results
vs. Stevensville, W 22-12
at Dillon, L 14-42
at Lewistown, W 36-6
at Libby, W 59-37
vs. Polson, L 6-36
at Columbia Falls, W 42-6
vs. Whitefish, W 28-7
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