Sports

Helena High Eyes Showdown With Glacier

Undefeated teams face off with first round bye on the line

HELENA — There’s nothing better than a big game on a Friday night and for the Helena High football team, that’s exactly what lies ahead.

Friday night at Vigilante Stadium, the No. 3 Bengals will host No. 4 Glacier in a battle of two of Class AA’s four undefeated teams.

The winner will have the inside track on a top-two seed in the Western AA with the playoffs, which comes along with a first-round bye and a home game in the postseason.

“I’m excited and I know our kids are ready to go,” Helena High head coach Scott Evans said. “I mean you can’t beat 4-0 vs 4-0 at this point in the season and it’s going to be two quality programs going at each other.”

One thing that should make the matchup exciting, is that it features two of the top offenses in Class AA. The Wolfpack come in averaging 41.5 points per game, compared to Helena High, which is averaging 39 points and 47 over its last three games.

Each team is also blessed with a talented quarterback. For its part, Helena has junior Kaden Huot, who leads Class AA with 13 touchdown passes and is second in passing yards. Opposite him will be Glacier’s J.T. Allen, who is averaging 153 yards per game but just two touchdowns compared to four interceptions.

“He manages the game and does exactly what he needs to do,” Evans said of Allen. “Their offense isn’t complicated right now, it’s running the football and the play-action passing game.”

Allen may not be putting up the numbers he did a year ago, however, he hasn’t needed to because Glacier running back Jake Rendina has done just fine carrying the load on his own.

In four games this season, Rendina has 764 yards and a remarkable 18 rushing touchdowns, including a state-record seven last week in a win over Missoula Hellgate. He also has gone over 200 yards in back-to-back games and has rushed for at least 181 yards in his last three.

“He was the one guy that really gouged us last year,” Evans said of Rendina. “He’s a strong kid and he runs a full 230, a nasty 230. He’s not going to break away with speed but he’s going to beat you up, so you have to take him on and tackle him the right way.”

Looking at the two teams, defense may be the difference.

In four games, Glacier has allowed an average of 22.5 points per game, while Helena is allowing just 7.5 and has allowed just one of four teams to score 10 points.

Glacier, on the other hand, has allowed at least 18 points in every game this season, including 38 to Hellgate last week. Helena has allowed just 30 points all season long.

“We are really excited and we are ready to play a really good team,” Helena two-way player Zachary Evans said. “They have a really good running back, so hopefully our defense can step up and stop him.”

The Bengals run defense has also been stout this year, holding three-of-four opponents under 100 yards. Only Hellgate, with the benefit of a 70-yard touchdown run broke the century mark. Other than that rush, Helena is allowing just 2.8 yards per attempt.

“They key for us is team tackling,” Zachary Evans said. “We just try to get everyone to ball as much as we can.”

In addition to not allowing many points or yards, Helena also has 19 sacks and six interceptions this season. Defensive lineman Zach Carson is leading the state with five but 10 Bengals have a sack so far.

Kickoff between the Wolfpack and Bengals will be at 7 p.m.