Spartans top Bulldogs, spoil Silver B’s Night

Just about everything that could go wrong for the Bulldogs went wrong Friday at Naranche Stadium, as Butte High dropped a sloppy 28-9 Class AA football decision to visiting Missoula Sentinel.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times, including twice in their first two possessions, rushed the ball for a net total of 2 yards, and gave up 10 plays that went for at least 10 yards.

The defeat spoiled Silver B’s Night for the Bulldogs, who fell to 1-1 on the season. Sentinel is also 1-1.

The Mitch Roberts-to-Mitch Reynolds battery proved successful for the Spartans, who notched their first three scores with the quarterback-receiver combination. Roberts connected with Reynolds on touchdown passes of 39, 33 and 3 yards.

“We didn’t take care of the ball offensively and we can’t do that,” Butte High head coach Arie Grey said after the game. “But it was the little mistakes in all three areas that cost us.”

Two of Butte High’s first three plays from scrimmage ended up in Spartan hands, as the Bulldogs fumbled and were intercepted. One play after the pick, Reynolds hauled in the 39-yarder from Roberts and Sentinel had a lead it never gave up.

Butte opened with a 10-yard pass from Ty Peterson to Kiley Caprara, but it was more than 14 minutes of game time before the Bulldogs saw another. Peterson took advantage of a hard-charging Spartan defense and found Mason Ruppel on a screen over the middle that went for 22 yards, and two plays later Peterson lofted the ball to Caprara for a perfectly timed 36-yard touchdown catch.

That brought the Bulldogs within a touchdown, and the home team nearly tied it up before half, but was shut down on downs at the Spartan 2. The Bulldog running game never really got off the ground, and a number of sacks and bad snaps kept the numbers hovering near zero.

“We couldn’t establish the run so we had to rely on some other things,” Grey said. “We had some flashes there where we did some really good things but we had too many mistakes and you can’t beat anybody when you do that.”

Butte’s defense had moments of brilliance as well, as linebacker Kaleb Ferriter and end Brian LaFond each stopped Spartans for losses, but Justin Best, Ax Henningsen, Quinn Dennehy and Bryce Gallagher all made key tackles too. Anthony Cooney also recovered his third fumble of the season.

The defense also held fast on a stand deep in Sentinel territory that ended in a bad long snap and a safety when the Spartan punter ran out of the back of the end zone.

“They know they’re going to be called on a lot,” Grey said of his defense.

Nathaniel Ferguson saw plenty of action as a punter and handled the job well. Special teams suffered with a fumbled punt return, however, though a few return efforts were painfully close to breaking for six.

Ruppel finished with 10 carries for 44 yards, while Caprara had five catches for 87 yards. Jake Salmonsen, Matt Merzlak and Will O’Connor each had multiple catches as Peterson finished 21 of 37 passing for 235 yards.

“We’ll learn from this and grow, and that’s really all we can do,” Grey said. “We’re going to test our character a little bit and find out what we’re made of. But it’s week 2 and we’re not going to allow this to define us.”

Grey said he’s ready to get back to work and fix what’s broken, but that will wait for tomorrow.

“You’ve only got 24 hours to enjoy a win, so you’ve only got 24 hours to sulk on a loss, I guess,” he said.

Butte High (1-1) is back in action next weekend when the Bulldogs travel to Bozeman to take on the Hawks (2-0) who defeated Kalispell Glacier 24-10 Friday night.


Butte High's Cian Randall (37), Ax Henningsen (36) and Quinn Dennehy bring down Sentinel quarterback Mitch Reynolds.

Butte High’s Cian Randall (37), Ax Henningsen (36) and Quinn Dennehy bring down Sentinel quarterback Mitch Reynolds.

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