After the first game of the season was canceled, the Maroons rolled past Browning 37-0 to open the year. Now they have shifted their focus to a talented Whitefish team who they host Friday at 7 p.m.
Whitefish will come into Friday’s game with a 2-0 record with wins over Frenchtown and Dillon. Butte Central coach Don Peoples praised his team’s energy so far but also acknowledged the challenge Whitefish presents.
“We think Whitefish is a really good team,” Peoples said. “If you can beat Dillon and you beat a good Frenchtown team then you’re going to be good. Whitefish is a real solid team, an up-and-coming team.”
Bulldogs QB Fynn Ridgeway has put together an excellent start to the season, completing nearly 61% of his passes at a clip of 11.2 yards per completion. He’s thrown four touchdowns compared to two interceptions.
Whitefish also possesses quite a 1-2 punch at receiver. Bodie Smith has hauled in 15 passes for 161 yards in two games. Jaxsen Schlauch has been just as good, racking up 11 receptions for 160 yards.
While the Bulldogs have moved the ball up and down the field through the air, Peoples noted that improved passing efficiency is needed for Butte Central to get the win. Quarterback Luke Garrison made just his second start last week against Browning and is still settling into the role.
As Garrison has continued to get reps in the pocket, the Butte Central offensive line has protected him well so far, according to Peoples.
“Luke’s only had two quarterback starts. He’s shown good things and he’ll get better each week,” Peoples said. “I’m pleased with our offensive line, they’re protecting him and helping our running backs.”
The running game has been a clear strength for Butte Central as every touchdown it scored last week came on the ground. While the running backs took much of the load, Garrison ran for a touchdown himself in the fourth quarter against Browning.
Butte Central running back Eyston Lakkala had three rushing touchdowns against Browning and Konner Pochervina added two of his own. Kyle Holter proved to be a two-point conversion specialist against Browning which further strengthened the Butte Central rushing attack.
“Our running backs ran well in Lakkala and Pochervina,” Peoples said. “But we had penalties and stalls in the red zone that really hurt us, that can’t happen against Whitefish.”
Butte Central’s defensive effort was reflected in their game against Browning. Despite the shutout though, Peoples said there are still areas defensively his team needs to clean up.
Regardless of the outcome on Friday Peoples said his team is excited to play at home. The first game of the season was canceled because players violated team and school protocols and the Browning game was on the road.
“We’re excited to be at home and our kids are really looking forward to it,” Peoples said. “We played fast and with aggressiveness last week and they’ll bring it again at home. There’s also a traditional history with the Whitefish rivalry.”
Whitefish and Butte Central played in the first round of the 2013 playoffs and the semifinals in 2014. Peoples, a former Butte Central player himself, said the rivalry dates back before the 1980s.
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