By Bruce Sayler
The Red Team flat out pilfered the win Saturday night — a 38-16 victory over the Blue Team in the 33rd holding of the Bob Cleverley All-Star Classic football game.
Red Teamers picked off seven passes in the eight-man game played on the Bob Green Field at Montana Tech. The contest brought together senior standouts from last fall’s Montana Class C eight-man football campaigns.
A crowd of maybe a thousand watched an entertaining game. Big-play defense decided the outcome.
“”We knew what we had to do to get down and get it done,” Red Team defensive back Isaac Desjarlais of Arlee said. “I was watching the quarterback, watching for the pass and backpedaling a lot.”
The tactic resulted in two picks for Desjarlais, voted the Red Team’s Defensive MVP by a panel of observers. He also caught three passes, good for 50 yards total as a receiver on offense.
“It was pretty awesome,” Desjarlais said about playing in the all-star event.
It was likely the star’s last football game and got to cap his career on his favorite side of the ball — the defense. After three years playing at Arlee, Desjarlais is taking his athleticism on the road to a big-time college program, but in a different sport.
“I’ll be running track this next year,” he said, “for the University of Arizona.”
Desjarlais, third in the 800-meter run and fourth in the 400 at the recent state Class C meet, said plans for him are to be a mid-distance runner for the Pacific 12 Conference Wildcats. So, the week was a fitting goodbye for him to football.
“It was a fun week,” he said as his face lit with a smile. “It was a lot of fun with the boys.”
The football thievery by Desjarlais and Co. offset some potential turnover problems for the winners. The Red Team was assessed six fumbles, but most were because of high or otherwise bad snaps, rather than of the dribble-penetration running attack variety.
The Blue actually threatened first with a drive to the Red 7-yard line before the march died on downs as Cade Estes of Flint Creek batted down a pass in the end zone.
The Red then ran off the next 26 points to take control of the game for good.
Red Offensive MVP, Montana Tech football-bound Michael Delaney of Charlo, fired a pass into the flat to Estes that went for a 73-yard touchdown completion to begin the scoring as the Red led 8-0 after one quarter.
The Red squad put up 18 points in the second period for a 26-0 halftime bulge. Quarterback Patrick Big Sam of Arlee crashed 4 yards on a keeper, Delaney busted loose for a 33-yard scoring sprint, and the team’s third QB, Dalton Taber of Harlowton, scampered 6 yards for a TD.
Twin Bridges’ Bill Yeager delivered the hit that caused the fumble that brought the Red’s possession for the first TD, then Big Sam found Hunter Idso of White Sulphur Springs open for a 28-yard gain setting up his touchdown burst. The Delaney dash came after the first of two interceptions by Trent Brouillette of Plains. Taber tallied after Desjarlais’ first pick.
Quarterback Ian McIntosh of reigning state Class C eight-man champion Chinook got the Blue Team on the board a 2-yard sneak five minutes past halftime. The play capped a short drive after one of the Red’s bad snaps resulted in a 6-yard punt.
Big Sam answered for the Red with an 11-yard scoring keeper that ended a 52-yard drive. The Blue was stopped there on downs. However, the Blue caused some excitement by forcing a fumble on the Red’s two-point conversion attempt that saw Justin May scoop up the loose ball and sprint 82 yards for a Blue safety. May, voted the Blue’s Defensive MVP, will also join Montana Tech’s program this fall. He is from Joplin and starred for Chester-Joplin-Inverness in high school
Delaney answered for Red with a 48-yard tear to the end zone on a 6keeper, but the Blue retaliated immediately when Koltin Haugrose of Belt sped 85 yards returning the kickoff for a touchdown.
Still, the third frame ended with the Red leading by 38-16.
Neither team scored again.
Blue offensive MVP was Ben Hardy of Fairview. He will take his skills and 6-foot-6, 210-pound frame to the University of Montana this fall to play for the Grizzlies at either the tight end/H-back slot or at defensive end.
“It really doesn’t matter to me where I get to play,” he said after the game. “I just like football.”
He came up with a fumble recovery in Saturday night’s “Clev” game and caught three passes for 50 yards on offense.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said about the game and the week of practice with the other all-stars leading up to the tilt. “I would like to play (the Red) again to give them a better game.”
The Blue looked good on its opening drive before the team unraveled with turnovers.
“That just happens sometimes in football,” Hardy said with a shrug. “Things don’t go your way and then it kind of (snowballs).”
It’s a good thing he likes football. Hardy has two more games to play in before joining the Griz camp. He will be on Team Montana later this month when it plays its annual Badlands Bowl game against North Dakota standouts. Then, Hardy will return to Butte in July with the East Team to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
Delaney finished with 112 yards on eight carries, and completed 4 of 7 passes for 123 yards and no interceptions. May caught two passes for 18 yards for the Blue, and ran the ball four times for five yards. He also recovered a fumble.
Delaney, Big Sam and Colby Minert of Twin Bridges each intercepted a pass for the Red to go with the two picks each by Brouillette and Desjarlais. Erik Pschernig of Simms had an interception for the Red, and Hardy and Kevin Young of Chinook each recovered a fumble.
The Red team was made up of stars from the West and South divisions of Class C 8-Man football. The blue team consisted of stars from the East and North. The game honors longtime Ennis coach Bob Cleverley who headed the organization and conduction of the game until just prior to his death from cancer in 2007.
Red 8 18 12 0 — 38
Blue 0 0 16 0 — 16
RED — Cade Estes 73 pass from Michael Delaney (Tracen Eggers pass from Delaney), 6:45.
RED — Patrick Big Sam 4 run (run failed), 10:35.
RED — Delaney 33 run (run failed), 9:37
RED — Dalton Taber 6 run (pass failed), 8:16.
BLUE — Ian McIntosh 2 run (pass failed), 10:12
RED — Big Sam 11 run (run failed), 3:19BLUE — Safety, Justin May 82 fumble recovery on Red Team 2-point conversion attempt, 3:19
RED — Delaney 48 run (run failed), :32
BLUE — Koltin Haugrose 85 kickoff return (Derek Bell run), :19.
First downs 20 14
Rushes-yards 55-189 50-66
Passes 11-23-1 1 5-40-7
Passing yards 220 168
Return yards 89 108
Punts-avg. 3-47.7 1-49.0
Fumbles-lost 6-3 3-1
Penalties-yards 2-10 1-15
RUSHING — Red — Michael Delaney 8-112, Patrick Big Sam 11-51, Dalton Taber 10-26, Harold Yocum 3-16, Trent Brouillette 2-10, Jade Smith 2-8, Colby Minert 3-8, Cade Estes 1-7, Brad Holland 4-7, Bill Yeager 2-2, Tracen Eggers 1-(-1), Team 8-(-57). Blue — Ian McIntosh 13-42, Derek Bell 4-21, Logan Rushton 10-9, Koltin Haugrose 1-6, Justin May 4-5, Jake Bloom 4-5, Brandon Richter 5-4, Ben Hardy 1-2, Matt Metrione 1-0, Chase Rossmiller 2-(-4), Team 2-(-8), Seth Sayles 3-(-16).
PASSING — Red — Delaney 4-7-0-123, Big Sam 6-11-0-94, Taber 1-5-1-3. Blue — McIntosh 6-14-4-82, Richter 7-15-3-58, Rushton 2-10-0-20, Haugrose 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Red — Estes 2-93, Isaac Desjarlais 3-50, Hunter Idso 1-28, Aaron Kelly 1-18, Smith 2-16, Justin Kingma 1-12, Brouillette 1-3. Blue — Hardy 3-50, Haugrose 3-30, May 2-18, Bell 2-16, Adam Buxbaum 1-15, Erik Pschernig 1-11, Bayles 1-9, Metrione 1-3.