By Derek Hendrickson
LIVINGSTON — The Butte Central Maroons put on a dominant display Friday night, rolling to a 41-0 halftime lead by scoring on their 6 first half possessions and cruising to a 47-7 nonconference win over the Park County High Rangers.
The defense was equally as tough, holding the Rangers to one first down in the opening half, which came in the waning moments before the break, and finally allowing a Park High touchdown with :46 ticks left and an all froshmore lineup almost maintaining the shutout.
The win helped the Maroons get over a disappointing opening week performance at Belgrade last weekend. Central spotted the Panthers a 20 point halftime lead aided by several penalties.
Head coach Don Peoples spoke about the difference between the first game and the second, saying, “We challenged our kids to come out and play better and they did. It’s awesome to get every healthy kid in our program in the game.”
The Maroons got started early and often, taking the opening kickoff 70 yards in just 2 minutes 8 seconds. Junior running back Kyle Harrington got things started with back to back twenty yard gains, first on the kick return and then on his first run from scrimmage. Senior captain Kaeman Richards punched in a 2-yard touchdown after Danny Peoples hit Cole Harper on a perfectly executed pass that covered 33 yards.
The ensuing Ranger driver was the first of many 3 and outs. Cal Hollow returned the punt 16 yards to the Livingston 44 and 3 plays later Peoples romped 20 yards on a keeper and staked Central to a 14-0 lead not even five minutes in.
Another Park High drive went nowhere and Hollow again set the Maroons up in great shape, returning the punt to the Central 44. This drive only needed 4 plays to reach pay dirt as Peoples hit two long pass plays, one of 19 to Richards and the 26 yard scoring strike to Dalton Sessions with 3:44 to go in the first it was 21-0 BC.
The next sequence saw the Maroons mimic some NFL stars as Marcus Ferriter pull his best JJ Watt impression by raising up to bat an attempted Ranger pass. That led to a punt and one of the few BC miscues of the night as the Maroons fumbled and Livingston had a rare opportunity in Central territory.
Richards then pulled his best Troy Polamalu when he attempted to time the snap and jumped the Ranger line tackling the quarterback. Unfortunately for him the snap wasn’t on one and he got an earful from the coaching staff. Senior Chad Peterson put a stop to any hopes the Rangers had of making a comeback on the next snap when he recovered a fumble.
The Maroons quickly took advantage. Peoples hit Peterson for 16 yards on third and 8 before Harrington scored on a gritty effort where he was initially bottled up but bounced outside and outran the Ranger secondary 26 yards to a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
Park had their longest play with both teams varsity players in the game on the next kick return when Austin Peterson ran 35 yards to give the Rangers the ball at their own 40. The drive was doomed, however, as a motion penalty made it first and 15, then Mike Cooney forced a fumble that Park recovered but on the next play Sessions stepped in front of a would be receiver and raced down the sideline with an interception return all the way to the Livingston 15.
Sessions credited some technique work during the week for his big play, saying “We have been working in practice on back pedaling more, it’s easier to make a pick when you’re in good position, I saw the quarterback’s eyes go over and just broke on the ball.”
A perfectly placed pass from Peoples to Harper on a fade on the next play gave Central a 35-0 lead with 10:28 to go in the second.
Ferriter again ended Livingston’s next drive with a sack and a four yard loss setting up a fourth and long. The fourth down punt was probably one of the most exciting of the game as Hollow caught the ball and juked out the first wave of Ranger coverage before finding a wall of Maroon blockers and going 54 yards for the score. That play was the exclamation point on a 41 point first half explosion.
Hollow described his return and gave a lot of credit to his teammates on the play, saying “I just saw it coming up, I caught it and my blockers were blocking good, Colin McArther had a good block and I just returned it to the right and Marcus and Kaeman had my back and left a hole wide open for me, it felt good getting in the end zone.”
The Rangers finally got their initial first down as they attempted to get something going on the last drive of the first half. Ironically the play that set up them moving the chains was a Ferriter sack on first down but a horse collar tackle was called setting up a 1st and 5. The seven yard run by Bobby Emter was a first down but also the final play of the half.
Central kept the starters in for one more drive in the third and it would be another quick drive covering 61 yards in 5 plays, all runs. Harrington jaunted for 2, 5 and 14, Peoples ripped off 25 and Richards finished it from 14 yards out giving Central a 47-0 edge.
With the start of the second half the 35 point mercy rule also kicked in and the clock ran almost continuously for the final 24 minutes. The Maroons were able to substitute freely and many freshman were able to get their first varsity quarters in.
The Rangers kept their main players in throughout and finally connected for a long pass play in the final minute of the 4th followed by a one yard TD run for the final 47-7 score. The win leveled Central’s record at 1-1 on the young season, while Livingston fell to 0-2.
Danny Peoples discussed the much more efficient Maroons and how this win should help them moving forward, saying “I feel like after last week we needed to get everything tuned up and get both our run game and pass game established before we get into big games. I feel like we were really clicking on both offense and defense which is the best thing we could do for our confidence and we are excited to get going.”
The Maroons will open the home portion of their schedule Friday night at Montana Tech on the Bob Green Field in the Bishops Bowl against rival Billings Central. The Rams also opened against Belgrade but were able to knock the Panthers off 27-21 by intercepting a late pass in the end zone.
Coach Peoples talked about the upcoming game against perennial powerhouse Billings Central saying, “We got a big challenge in front of us now but for week 2 we accomplished all our goals. Billings Central’s got a great team. Holden Ryan played a great game last night it sounded like, it will be a tremendous challenge but we’re excited about it and we’re going to get ready to play.”