Shorthanded Maroons ready to take on Hamilton

Shorthanded Maroons ready to take on Hamilton
Butte Central captains Dylan Shea, left, and Ryan Moodry take the field for the coin toss before BC's Sept. 8 home opener. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

There was probably no better time to come home off the road for football for this year’s Butte Central Maroons than this week.

The BC team will be looking to regroup, rebound and redirect as it must overcome some injuries to battle with Hamilton in a Friday Southwestern A Conference showdown.

Both teams are contending for high seeds in the league, and for playoffs contention. Butte Central is 3-2 for the season, 0-2 in conference. The Maroons began with three straight lopsided wins over non-conference opponents, but have lost two in a row now to undefeated teams Dillon and Frenchtown on the road.

Hamilton is 5-1 for the season and 2-0 in conference. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the Bob Green Field at Montana Tech. (Radio: KOPR 94.1 FM or online)

“We knew the stretch of Dillon, Frenchtown and Hamilton would be very difficult games,” BC head coach Don Peoples Jr. said. “Hamilton beat us twice last year — once in the regular season and once in the playoffs — and they have some outstanding players back. They will be a huge challenge.”

Butte Central will be honoring St. Lawrence’s Grade School with the game. St. Lawrence was in session in Butte 1895-1967 before merging with St. Mary Grade School. Known as the Hilltoppers, St. Lawrence’s sports teams wore blue and gold uniforms in competition.

Butte Central will go into it minus two key players. Both junior quarterback Cade Holter and junior running back Clay Fisher suffered concussions in last week’s loss at Frenchtown and are out indefinitely, Peoples said.

Sophomore Thomas McGree will move from his receiver spot to take over at quarterback, while Fisher’s place in the backfield will be taken by either senior fullback Dylan Shea or sophomore receiver Jared Simkins, depending on the alignment the Maroons choose. Sophomore Trevor Neumann will line up in McGree’s former receiver station.

BC senior running back Ryan Moodry hurt a knee in the game at Frenchtown, but has been pronounced fit and ready to go, Peoples said.

“Thomas McGree is an outstanding athlete, a great kid and will do a great job of leading our team,” Peoples said. “We’ll try to replace Fisher by committee. Jared Simkins will play there on receiving plays and Dylan Shea will have some time in the backfield.”

The Broncs have a new head coach this year in Bryce Carver, promoted from Hamilton’s staff of assistants. Carver was a star quarterback at Dillon, then a wide receiver at the University of Montana before joining the Broncs’ program. His father, Brett Carver, is a longtime assistant coach at Dillon.

“We probably have to win at least two games to get into the playoffs,” Peoples said, noting games with Stevensville and Corvallis follow Friday’s tilt on the calendar. “That makes this a big game, for sure.”

The Broncs have been playing well. They lead all offensive categories in league statistics and play a quick, swarming defense. The numbers bear out in statistician Brian Reed’s calculations for Class A.

Sophomore Carson Rostad, a second-year starter, leads the league in passing with 1,462 yards on 87 completions in 146 attempts. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds to go with talent and experience. Bridger Bauder, a Southwestern A terror since his freshman year, is finally a senior. Now 5-10 and 195 pounds, Bauder leads the conference in rushing with 657 yards, averaging 7.4 yards carry, ranks third in receiving with 349 yards, is second in total yards with 1,023 yards to Rostad’s 1,561, and is the fourth-best punter and third-best kickoff returner in the league.

The top receiver in Southwestern A is Hamilton 5-11, 165-pound senior Ty Couinard with 491 yards, followed by teammates Camron Rothie and Bauder in second and third places, respectively. Tyler Barnes, a 6-1, 160-pound junior, is yet another good receiver. Chouinard is also a danger on returns, averaging league-bests of 21.2 yards per punt runback and 38.2 yards per kickoff return.

“Bauder is having a great season,” Peoples said. “He is running the ball hard, receiving the ball and is their best defensive player.”

The matchup is shaping up to be a familiar theme for the two constant contenders.

“Hamilton has become a pretty good rival of ours,” Peoples said. “They’re a really good program and look like a really good football team. Travis (Blome) did a really good job (as head coach) and Bryce had a big role in what they did. They’re really dynamic on offense and really solid on defense.”

The Broncs haven’t gotten any smaller, either.

“They graduated a lot of big linemen last year,” Peoples said. “And, I think they cloned them. They have a group of big sophomores and juniors in there, now.”

Defensively, the Broncs’ Michael Golden averages a Southwestern A-high 9.5 tackles a game and has 57 this year, his junior season. Sophomore Tucker Jones and junior Michael Graves rank second and third in sacks with five and four, respectively. Golden has three. The line includes 6-3, 265 senior Zach Fussell, 6-3, 270-pound junior Darrell Moderie and 6-3, 235-pound senior Coy Whyte.

Longtime Hamilton head coach Steve Weston, who retired from the position several seasons ago, is the line coach for the team, now, Peoples said.

“He brings a toughness to them and does an outstanding job coaching them,” Peoples said.

Holter, Fisher and Moodry were all enjoying good performances against Frenchtown before the injuries. Conference stats show Holter ranking third in passing and seventh in rushing while Moodry is second in rushing with 455 yards, averaging 5.8 per carry. Fisher is sixth in receiving and fourth in punt returns.

Holter is fourth and Moodry sixth in total yards. Moodry is the top punter in the league with an average of 42.0 yards per kick.

Butte Central junior cornerback Aidan Petritz leads the conference in interceptions with five.

“We will have to finish drives,” Peoples said. “We’ve moved the ball well the last two weeks, but haven’t always gotten into the end zone. We need to do a better job of finishing drives and putting points on the board.”

The coach also stressed that the more often and longer the Maroons have the ball means less touches and opportunities for Rostad, Bauder and Co. on offense for Hamilton.

“It seems like we’ve been on the road a long time and so we’re excited to be home,” Peoples said. “And, we’re excited to wear the St. Lawrence uniforms.  The special uniforms games are always exciting to be a part of, so the kids are excited will play their best.

“We’ll be coming out as Hilltoppers (Friday) night.”

Likely offensive starters for the BC offense will be senior Saxon Walton at center, senior Zeb Antonioli and junior Seth Gardner at the guards, senior Hunter Hartwick and sophomore Aaron Richards at the tackles, sophomore Matt Simkins at tight end, senior Allen Boyle and sophomore Trevor Neumann at wide receivers, senior Ryan Moodry and senior Dylan Shea or sophomore Jared Simkins at the running backs and sophomore Thomas McGree at quarterback.

On defense, Matt Simkins, Richards, Hartwick, Antonioli, Gardner and Walton will all likely see time up front while Moodry and Shea are at linebacker with Hartwick, Braden Harrington or Nathan Boyle also possibly seeing time there, and Petritz, Neumann and Allen Boyle at the corners with McGree and Jared Simkins possibly at the safeties. A lot of substituting is expected with Butte Central’s depth filling for starters missing this week because of injuries.

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Print this Page

Print Friendly, PDF & Email