Playoffs come early for Maroons, Broncs

By Bill Foley

The Class A football playoffs do not begin officially until Oct. 30.

As far as Butte Central and Frenchtown are concerned, however, the postseason has already begun. The Maroons and Broncs will meet Friday in Frenchtown in a game that is must win for both teams.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. (Radio: KOPR 94.1 FM, or on the KOPR app.)

“The loser’s out,” Butte Central coach Don Peoples Jr. said. “There’s no question.”

Central enters at 2-4. Frenchtown, which went to Kellogg, Idaho for 38-23 win last Thursday, is 3-3 overall and 2-3 in Western AA play. One of BC’s losses is a forfeit to Polson. (Butte Central roster; Frenchtown roster)

A win will not guarantee a spot in the playoffs. Central would have to win again in two weeks when the Maroons play host to Stevensville to have a chance to qualify.

“The kids are fully aware that our playoff future comes down to Friday night,” Peoples said. “We have to win both games. They know the implications.”

Beating Frenchtown has not been easy for the Maroons in the past, and it does not appear that it will be this year. The Broncs and Maroons have conference wins over the same teams — Browning and Corvallis. They both have losses to Whitefish, Hamilton and Dillon.

“They’re a really physical, aggressive football team,” Peoples said. “They’ve been a great football tradition school.”

That tradition started in the Class B. When, under longtime coach Tim Racicot, the Broncs moved up to Class A early this century, they became an immediate Class A contender. They have stayed that way, too.

“They run the ball real hard, and they play aggressive defense,” Peoples said.

Eli Quinn, a 6-foot-5, 160-pound sophomore quarterback, leads the Frenchtown offense. He stepped in for injured Kellen Klimpel and has had a strong season.

Quinn is the son of former Butte High and Montana Tech standout Mark Quinn. He is also a distant relative to Peoples.

“He’s a big, tall kid,” Peoples said. “He throws the ball down field, and he’s got a couple big, tall receivers.”

Junior Peyton Hicks leads the running for the Broncs. He averages 5.2 yards per carry on his way to 470 yards through six games. Seniors Garrett Schmill and Devin Shelton and junior Noah Rausch have picked up big yardage this season.

Senior Devin Shelton and junior Connor Michaud are Frenchtown’s leading receivers. Shelton has racked up 24 catches for 350 yards and six touchdowns. Michaud adds 13 catches for 171 yards.

“They are not one dimensional by any standpoint,” Peoples said.

The Maroons are coming off a solid performance in a loss to Dillon. Peoples said his team missed a few opportunities that could have given his team a chance to knock off Dillon.

The Beavers capitalized on their chances and outscored BC 24-6 in the fourth quarter of a 38-20 win.

“We really feel like we controlled the line of scrimmage against Dillon,” Peoples said. “They only rushed for 23 yards in that game. We felt good about a lot of our play in the interior, but we’ve got to make the plays to win the game.”

Junior quarterback Luke Garrison leads the BC offense. He will again be without a couple of big targets in Dougie Peoples and Eric Loos. The two will miss one more week with leg injuries, Coach Peoples said.

Kyle Holter is coming off another big game for BC. Last week he caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Zane Moodry, a 6-4, 175-pound sophomore, is an emerging force in the passing game. The tight end also helps in the running game.

“He’s going to be a really good player down the road,” Peoples said.

Senior Eyston Lakkala and juniors Konnor Pochervina, Rye Doherty and Garrett Button are also targets in the passing game. Pochervina and Lakkala have also put up big rushing games last week.

Pochervina had his best game of the season last week, running for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

The offensive line is made up of senior Eric Hart at center and junior Riley Gelling and senior Joe Sehulster tackle. Junior Cayden Kibler starts at one guard, while sophomore Canyon Kibler and senior Gage Guldseth switch off at the other.

The Kibler brothers, Hart, Sehulster and Gelling are also forces on the defensive front for the Maroons. Doherty, Pochervina and Lakkala stand out at linebacker, and sophomore Jack Keeley, senior Drew Badovinac, Holter and Garrison have been playmakers in the secondary.

Holter and Hart picked off passes last week. Lakkala recovered a fumble.

Lakkala, the punter, and junior Ethan Andersch, the kicker, are the leaders of BC’s special teams.

The Maroons have a rare late-season open date next weekend. Peoples said an attempt to add a non-conference game fell through this week.

BC’s will close the regular season Oct. 22 at home against Stevensville.

If the Maroons can pull out a win this Friday, their Senior Night showdown with the Yellowjackets will be a huge game.