One of the wheels fell off the Butte Central bus before the Maroons were able to head to Browning for Friday’s Class A non-conference high school football game
At least, figuratively, it happened. The BC club will be playing without star senior Kyle Harrington for the rest of the season. Butte Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. confirmed that Harrington suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his right knee late in the Maroons’ 16-10 season-opening win over Belgrade last Friday. Harrington is to undergo surgery in three weeks to repair the damage. The recovery period is generally eight months to a year or more.
“We are just sick about it,” Peoples said. “Kyle is an awesome kid in our program. He is a very hard worker, a very good player and a polite gentleman. People know about him mostly for his ball-carrying, but he is a very good defensive player, too.
“We told him that the positive is that once he has this done, the knee will be 100 percent fixed.”
Harrington ran for 1,491 yards as a junior while helping BC to the state Class A championship game. He gained 129 last week before being injured on a play near the west sideline at Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field that helped set up the winning touchdown, a short carry by sophomore fullback Ryan Moodry.
“As usual, Kyle was trying for extra yardage,” Peoples said, “and his right leg planted kind of funny.”
Peoples said Butte Central will try “running back by committee” on Friday when the Maroons play at Browning. The game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium.
Senior Cal Hollow and junior Nate McGree will both see action at running back and at wide receiver on offense. Also,Peoples said junior running back Blake Burton has been cleared to join the team after healing a broken foot suffered in a summer football camp. Moodry will also carry, in fullback sets.
Harrington’s defensive end spot will go to senior lineman Ethan St. John, who had been rotating with Jake Michelotti and Ryan Richards on the inside. Kyle Schulte plays the other end.
“Otherwise, personnel-wise, we’re going with the same guys as last week,” Peoples said.
Burton is the first of a few players who were hurt in the off-season expected to return at different times this fall.
Probable starters on offense have center Dylan Shea at center, Michelotti and Richards at guard, St. John and Schulte at the tackles, senior Colin McArthur at tight end, senior Cole Harper, McGree, Hollow and junior Sam Johnston rotating at the wide receivers, and then Moodry at fullback and McGree, Hollow and Burton alternating at running back behind junior quarterback Tanner Kump.
The win over Belgrade marked Kump’s first as a varsity QB. He completed nine passes and directed a pair of touchdown drives. A TD pass to Harper was one of seven aerial connections between the two.
On defense, Michelotti, Richards, St. John and Schulte will be the front four. Johnston, McArthur and Moodry will form the linebacking corps while Harper and Ryan Ashby man the cornerback roles, Hollow is at free safety and McGree at strong safety. Ashby and McGree both had interceptions last week, and Hollow recovered a fumble.
In special teams, BC may still be without a placekicker this weekend but Schulte demonstrated a good leg as the punter versus Belgrade. Hollow nearly broke two returns for touchdowns.
“I like the way our kids competed,” Peoples said about opening with the win. “We gave up a big play in the first quarter, then the defense played really solid football. Offensively, we had some trouble with center-quarterback snaps that hurt a couple of drive opportunities. That’s something that can be cleaned up.
“Overall, I liked the way the kids fought, competed in that game.”
Butte Central will be facing a somewhat unknown opponent in Browning. The Indians had their opener with Polson canceled because health concerns associated to heavy wildfire-caused smoke in both places. Smoke hung in the air in Butte, too, but was deemed by authorities to be thin enough to allow for play.
Changes from what the Indians have done on the football field in the past are expected due to Browning head coach John Lucke involving the team in two University of Montana football camps during the summer.
The Indians also bring back a corps of talented seniors, including a number of whom have good football size. The Glacier Reporter newspaper listed Cody Lucke, Kevin Trombley, Jace Conway, Colton Wippert, Ryan Loring, Morgan Boggs and Tristen Redhorn as being leading returnees. The team has 14 seniors, the newspaper said.
“We don’t know a darn thing about them, except for what we have on film,” Peoples said. “We found out against Belgrade that things change.”
Belgrade used different formations on both offense and defense from what the Maroons expected after they’d prepared from viewing last year’s film on the Panthers. So, the BC coaches and players had to adjust on the fly.
“The film we have on Browning shows big and athletic kids,” he said.
Smoke shouldn’t be a problem this time for the teams. Heavy rains are being predicted, Peoples said.