Title-game loss does not ‘define’ 2019 Bulldogs

Title-game loss does not ‘define’ 2019 Bulldogs
The Butte High Bulldogs take the field for the state championship game Nov. 22, 2019 at Naranche Stadium. (Bill Foley photo)

KBOW encore is Saturday night

By Bill Foley

The name Asher Croy will haunt Butte High fans for decades to come.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Bozeman running back rushed for 333 yards and three touchdowns as the Hawks beat the Bulldogs 49-28 in the 2019 Class AA state championship game.

The game, which was played in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 at Naranche Stadium Nov. 22, 2019 will be replayed at 7 p.m. Saturday on KBOW, with Paul Panisko and Ron Hasquet, as Bozeman handed Butte High its first loss in 12 games.

Listen in at 550 AM, 101.5 FM or online at kbow550.net.

After talking to his heartbroken team in the west end zone of Butte’s storied stadium, Bulldog coach Arie Grey had nothing but praise for his Bulldogs.

“It’s not going to define them,” Grey said of the loss. “It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to sting. But they’ll bounce back. They’re a great group of young men.”

While the loss still hurts the Bulldogs, they should, however, take some solace in knowing that it took an almost super-human performance to beat them.

Croy, who transferred from Huntley Project before the season, averaged 140 yards per game entering the title tilt. The future Montana Grizzly more than doubled that against the Bulldogs. He finished the season with 1,870 yards and 19 touchdowns in 12 games.

“He’s a pretty dang good football player, and up front, man, they did a nice job,” Grey said. “They’re good, and we knew they were good. They just were able to control the line of scrimmage all night, and we weren’t able to. Hats off to Bozeman. They played a great football game.”

The championship game, though, started off looking like it belonged to the Bulldogs.

Senior quarterback Tommy Mellott hit a wide-open Jake Olson on the left sideline on third and eight. The junior tight end ran the rest of the way for what turned out to be a 53-yard touchdown.

Casey Kautzman’s extra point made it 7-0, and the Bulldogs were getting the ball back after the defense forced a three and out.

A fumble on the punt however, gave the ball back to Bozeman on its own 41-yard line.

Bozeman tied the game on a 22-yard run by Croy.

The game was tied at 14 at halftime after Mellott hit Quinn Sullivan for a 13-yard score just 2 minutes, 35 seconds before the break.

The Hawks took the lead for good when Jake D’Agostino hit Carter Ash for a 24-yard score with 3:37 left in the third quarter.

Crow scored on a pair of 5-yard runs in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks put the victory away.

Mellott passed for 291 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 80 yards in his final game as a Bulldog

Senior running back Kameron Moreno, whose 1,307 yards in 2019 ranks second only to Jay LeProwse’s 1,607 yards in 1997 on Butte High’s single-season rushing list, left the game with an injury in the first half.

In his place, twin brother Kobe Moreno ran for a pair of TDs for Butte High.

That, however, was not enough on a night when too many things just did not go Butte High’s way.

Even as he fought back teams, Grey said the 2019 season will go down as a great one for the Butte High Bulldogs.

“When you get a chance to reflect back on this, you’re going to see that some awesome things happened,” the coach said. “We have such a great community that rallied behind us, and I’m so blessed to be from here.”

Click here to read the Butte Sports story on the championship game.

KBOW has been rebroadcasting games as a way to help sports fans get through these boring nights of the coronavirus lockdown.

The series will conclude next Friday with a replay of Butte High victory over the Hawks in the 2012 championship game.

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