The thick smoke hanging over the Mining City didn’t keep the 2015 Butte High football team from taking the field at Naranche Stadium Friday for the annual Purple and White scrimmage.
The smoke did, however, shorten the workout, as the haze visibly thickened after an hour or so.
“We got in a lot of reps tonight,” said veteran Butte High head coach Arie Grey. “We’ll get in and take a look at the film and give the kids an idea of what they look like.”
The latest crop of Bulldogs is laden with experienced returners, including the four captains selected to man the leadership roles this season. Quarterback Dylan Cook and offensive lineman Riley Vaughn got the nod for the offense, while linebacker Cian Randall and defensive lineman Anthony Cooney will represent the defensive side of the ball.
Grey said he was pleased with the selections, and was also impressed with what he saw from them on the field.
“I thought Dylan made great decisions tonight,” Grey observed. “We ran the ball well and we had good tempo on offense, which plays into our strong suit. Our defense played with good energy and they got to the ball well too.”
The scrum began with a couple series of two-minute offense, and though neither drive ended in a score, the offense moved the ball well. Cook connected with running back Mason Ruppel and receivers Kiley Caprara, Paul Campbell and Jake Salmonsen on the first drive alone, completing five of his first six passes.
Ruppell showed good quickness running out of the backfield, carrying six times for 42 yards during the two drives.
Butte’s veteran offensive line opened up a number of good running lanes on the night, led by Vaughn and Cody Baszler at guards, Konnor O’Neill at center and Nolan Boyle, Connor Miller and Quinn Cunneen at tackles.
Former running back Kaleb Ferriter showed flair at his newfound linebacker position, applying good pressure in the backfield while standing up well to the run, while defensive back Bryce Gallagher proved solid reading the flat screen and following up with solid, physical hits.
“Kaleb’s been fun to watch at camp,” Grey said. “He’s constantly making plays.”
Cooney was strong up front with the help of big sophomores Grayson Mandic and Jeff Queer in the defensive trenches.
Bulldog fans got a look at new kicker Nathaniel Ferguson, a sophomore who takes over duties following the migration of Sean Staples to the Butte High soccer team. After a solid showing warming up with the field goal unit, Ferguson booted the only kickoff of the scrimmage through the end zone.
Junior Tyler Vetter picked off a pass by backup quarterback Ty Peterson, then returned it 25 yards for six points, while Brian LaFond recovered a fumble for the white team.
Ruppell added a score later on when he broke free from 32 yards out, capping the offensive output.
“We’ve still got some work to do,” Grey said. “We had a couple of holding calls that hurt us tonight, but the guys really needed to have some officials making the calls. We’ll get it cleaned up and get back to work.”
The Bulldogs have less than a week, as they play host to Billings Skyview in the season opener next Friday at Naranche Stadium.