By George Ferguson
The Havre High football team is anxious to get back on the field after last weekends heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Whitefish Bulldogs. But, things won't get any easier for the Ponies, as they host the top ranked Sidney Eagles tonight at Blue Pony Stadium.
"Sidney is a very tough football team with excellent athletes and a a real solid offensive attack," said Havre High head coach Troy Purcell. "But our team is prepared and very anxious to play this game."
The Ponies are coming off a 20-19 loss to Whitefish in double-overtime that put them at 0-1 on the season, but Purcell feels like his team has put that behind them and they are focused only on Sidney.
That focus will key on stopping Sidney's vaunted running attack and speed option, as well as, containing their tendencies toward play action passing.
"Sidney has had success with their option attack for years and they should be very tough again this year," Purcell said. "We're going to need to be very sharp on defense and really shut down their running attack."
On offense Purcell believes that his team will have to run the football successfully and keep his offense on the field. Against Whitefish, Havre's time of possession was considerably less than that of the Bulldogs.
"We definitely need to establish our running game and have much more of a ball controlled offense," Purcell said "Running the ball will be a big key."
The Ponies will also look to protect the ball more after turning it over five times against Whitefish.
"Turnovers always play a big part in any game and we are definitely going to have to cut down on those in order to have success against Sidney," Purcell said.
Sidney was also plagued by turnovers in their first game of the season. The Eagles turned the ball over three times and had a touchdown called back because of a penalty against Williston, ND. Yet, the Eagles solidified the win against Williston by forcing a turnover. Clinging to a 21-20 lead, Sidney's Nicholas Bawden picked off a pass with 21 seconds left in the game and raced 45 yards for a touchdown.
The Eagles come into Blue Pony Stadium tonight looking to avenge a 21-0 loss at the hands of the Ponies in Sidney last season. That 2001 Havre team was the first Blue Pony football team to ever win a football game in Sidney.
The Eagles have a new quarterback this season in Josh Kringen but do return several key returning starters from last years 7-3 team including senior running back Bawden, an all-state player from a year ago as well as fullback B.J. Houchen and a veteran offensive line. On defense the Eagles will have to replace all-state defensive linemen A.J. Franzen and Sean Tharp but do return senior all-state linebacker Lico Sifuentes.
The game kicks off tonight at 7:05 at Blue Pony Stadium and can be heard on 610AM KOJM.