The calendar says it is early October. For the Butte Central football team, though, it might as well be November.
The playoffs are basically already underway for Maroons and their quest to return to the post season.
Butte Central puts its season on the line again Friday when Hamilton comes to town. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Memorial Stadium. (KOPR 94.1 FM. Click here to listen online.)
The Maroons (2-4 overall) and Broncs (2-3) are both 1-1 in Southwestern A play. With No. 2 Dillon threatening to run the table again and Anaconda surprising at 2-0, a loss would leave the Broncs or Maroons needing some serious help to get into the playoffs.
“It’s pretty much do or die,” BC coach Don Peoples Jr. said. “We can control our own destiny if we win the next two games. If we lose one of the next two weeks, the season’s probably over.”
The Maroons are coming off a win that is huge. Or, it at least it could be a huge win.
One week after one of the most shocking losses in school history, the Maroons went on the road and beat Stevensville 31-13. The Yellowjackets were previously a ranked team.
“It’s a little more upbeat than last week,” Peoples said. “I’m really proud of the kids. They really responded well.
“That win on the road was a big win if we win this week,” the coach said. “We have to win this week or it doesn’t mean anything. That’s been our theme all week.”
Senior quarterback Brady Tippett passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Maroons to victory.
BC lead 10-0 before the Yellowjackets battled back for a 13-10 advantage in the second quarter.
Wyatt Kingston caught his second TD pass from Tippett late in the first half to take the lead for good. Peoples called that potentially the “turning point” in the BC season.
Tippett has plenty of options in a BC offense that has showed glimpses of being explosive.
Kale Guldseth, who caught 10 passes, and Connor McGree both went over the 100-yard mark with a touchdown last week. Kingston wasn’t far off Running back Joe Joyce a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball behind a line made up of Connor Schulte, Marcus Ferriter, Brant Ahlborn, Frank Joyce and Liam Doran.
Doran, BC’s super sub up front, is starting his second game at center. He is replacing injured guard Kolten Lamiaux. Frank Joyce is moving from center to guard. Doran started two games for Ahlborn earlier in the season.
BC’s defense will face a big test against the Broncs, who are coached by former Butte High offensive coordinator Travis Blome.
Blome, who is in his second year, basically runs the same no-huddle spread offense that the Bulldogs have used to excite the Mining City.
“They’re well coached with Travis and they have a dangerous quarterback,” Peoples said.
Quarterback Josh Bauder leads Blome’s Broncs, who fell 56-7 last week in Dillon. Peoples said not to be fooled by that score.
“As crazy as it sounds, I think they looked really good at times against Dillon,” Peoples said. “They really moved the ball up and down the field. They struggled in the red zone, but that’s probably a tribute to the Dillon defense.”
Kris Cleveland and Teague Bloom rank among the top receivers in the Southwestern A.
BC is led in the secondary by Tippet and Joy Joyce at safety and playmaking corners Guldseth and Northey Tretheway at cornerback.
Ben Holt, Kaemen Richards and Kingston are the starting linebackers behind a defensive line made up of Schulte, Ferriter, McGree and Frank Joyce.
“We’re anticipating a tough challenge,” Peoples said.
The Maroons play at Corvallis next week before closing out the regular season in two weeks at home against Dillon.
The next week, the playoffs begin. Officially.
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 — Tippett
SS — Joe Joyce
C — Guldseth; Tretheway