Maroons set sights on Hardin, better offensive play

Don Peoples Jr. didn’t mince any words. The Butte Central head football coach was not happy with his team’s performance in last Friday’s 20-0 win at Browning.

“We’ve got to get better this week,” Peoples said as his team readies for a nonconference game Friday at Hardin. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. (Radio: KOPR 94, 94.1 FM or online)

In particular, Peoples said his team’s offense has to be better if the Maroons are going to improve to 3-0 on the season. Against Browning, the Maroons came away empty on five trips to the red zone because of mistakes or turnovers.

“We were disappointed by the way we played offensively,” the coach said. “We had way too many turnovers to be successful.”

Peoples said the Maroons need to get the ball to their playmakers, like Cole Harper, Cal Hollow and Nate McGree.

Junior quarterback Tanner Kump passed for 84 yards in horrible, wet conditions in Browning. The Maroons, though failed to complete a pass after halftime.

Peoples said he likes what he sees in his quarterback, who has just two varsity starts under his belt.

“We’ve just got to get him some experience,” Peoples said. “He’s got a lot of potential.”

He’s also got several weapons at his disposal with the likes of Harper, McGree, Hollow, fellow receiver Sam Johnston and tight end Colin McArthur.

Even though the Maroons lost star running back Kyle Harrington to an ACL tear in the season-opening win over Belgrade, the Maroons appear to be set at running back.

Blake Burton, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior, returned from a broken foot suffered at a camp over the summer to rush for 126 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Burton is a speedy back who can also break tackles and run over defenders.

He’ll be running behind a formidable offensive line made up of center Dylan Shea, guards Ryan Richards and Jake Michelotti and tackles Kyle Schulte and Ethan St. John. Ryan Moodry will also lead the way from his fullback position.

“He ran hard,” Peoples said of Burton. “It was nice go get him back.”

The Bulldogs went 0-8 last year, but came close to knocking off a Havre team playing under first-year head coach Mark Samson, the former head coach at MSU-Northern and Helena Capital.

The Bulldogs had a chance to win but fell 14-13 Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium. The game was the opener for Hardin.

Peoples pointed out that the Bulldog defense held Havre star quarterback Dane Warp in check in the loss. Warp is one TD pass shy of becoming the all-time leader in Montana high school history in that category, so that is an impressive feat.

“Hardin did a nice job containing him,” Peoples said.

The Bulldog offense is led by a powerful running game with Connor Murdock, a 5-foot-7, 190-pound running back who scored two touchdowns last week. He also broke off a 64-yard run.

“They didn’t throw much, but they ran the ball hard,” Peoples said.

Defensively was not a problem for the Maroons in last week’s shutout victory.

St. John stepped in at defensive end in place of Harrington and held up well. He’ll switch off with McArthur at that spot this week. Michelotti, Richards and Schulte will also start up front.

Johnston, Moody, McAurthur, Burton and Shea will all see time at linebacker.

The athletic BC secondary is made up of Harper and Ryan Ashby at cornerback, Hollow at free safety and McGree at strong safety.

“On defense we played really solid,” Peoples said. “Browning is a much-improved team. They’re going to win some games this year.”

The Maroons will return home next week to celebrate homecoming against Laurel.

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