West looks to get back on track

The 67th Montana East-West Shrine Football game will make its first-ever appearance at Naranche Stadium Saturday night, as the Red team takes on the Gold in the annual battle of all-star football players. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

Naranche will be full for the first time since Butte High culminated its playoff run with a dramatic State title victory over Bozeman last November, and many of the same players and coaches will be on hand for the tilt as the West team tries to get back on track after losing to the East for the first time in five years last July in Great Falls.

“It should be a great game,” said Butte High’s Arie Grey, the head coach of the West team. Grey added that he was pleased with his group of players and assistant coaches, including his father Mike Grey, of Deer Lodge.

“You know, it’s fun to work with my Dad,” Grey said. “Growing up I always respected him so much and the way he’s always so good to the kids. He takes a lot of pride in what he’s doing. It’s been a blast to spend this week with him.”

Butte High assistant coach Mike Schmidt will call plays in the style of the Bulldogs’ high-power no-huddle offense, while quarterbacks Quinn McQueary of Manhattan and Dawson Reardon of Helena High will share duties behind center. Both have experience with the same offense that Grey ran as head coach of the Montana team in the recent Badlands Bowl.

“Quinn’s very athletic and he’s a great leader,” Grey said. “Dawson gets the ball out quick, and the thing about him is he can run too. They’ve both played extremely well all week.”

Filling out the offensive backfield is a talented trio of runners in Zach Winfield of Helena High, Gunnar Brekke of Helena Capital and Zach Bunney of Butte.

“Winfield is a power back, but he can do anything,” Grey said. “Gunnar really has a second gear out there, and we’re looking for some big things. Zach has had a good week and has had some big runs.”

The talented corps of receivers includes many who already learned the offense in the Mon-Dak Bowl.  Nico Graham of Missoula Big Sky, Jake Messerly of Missoula Sentinel, Josh Jansen of Missoula Loyola, Bryce Armstrong and Jon Allen of Butte, along with Dillon’s Austin Carver will look for catches and big gains for the offense.

“All these receivers are very talented,” Grey said. “It’s nice to be able to plan on how to use them instead of working on schemes to defend against them.

“Jake Messerly does great things when the ball’s in his hands, and Nico Graham runs phenomenal routes. Bryce knows what he’s doing, and has been a leader among the receivers, and Jon Allen came in late but picked up where he left off last season.”

Allen came in to spell Chris Landon, who will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s game.

A sizable and athletic offensive line will see seven players rotate through the game. Butte’s Drew Schleeman will see time at guard and center, while teammate Nick Butorovich stars at tackle. A pair of Dillon standouts include Austin Hoerning at center and Caleb Gillis at tackle, while Riley Sampson of Polson and Josh Sather of Bigfork round out the crew.

The defense, headed by Butte Central assistant coach Lee LaBreche, has been a good test for the offense all week.

“The defense has impressed me all week,” Grey said. “Lee is so organized and he’s got his defense humming. It’s a pleasure to work with Lee.”

Butte’s Anthony “Chunk” Moritz and Anaconda’s Joey Orrino anchor a solid defensive front, that also features Erik Williamson of Polson, Dave Cross of Hot Springs, Levi Dawes of Helena Capital, Devin Jeffries of Glacier and Max Orrin of Twin Bridges.

The linebackers include Bo Hughes of Missoula Loyola, Weston Northrup of Missoula Big Sky, Cole Miotke of Twin Bridges, Mike Gray of Hot Springs, C.J. Holland of Helena High and David Anderson of Frenchtown.

The defensive backfield boasts a pair of Butte Central products in Northey Tretheway and Joey Joyce. Both come in with a keen understanding of LaBreche’s defensive scheme, and neither is afraid to stick his nose in the action, Grey said.

The secondary also includes Tra Ludeman of Charlo, Reid Siderius of, Jay Owens of Missoula Big Sky, Rial Gunlikson of Glacier, Will Davey of Polson and Cole Baker of Missoula Big Sky.

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