By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ email@example.com
In terms of offensive production, the Havre High football team showed it's just as good to be explosive as it is to be efficient. Havre High rolled the Whitefish Bulldogs, 42-7, to race past the Whitefish Bulldogs on Saturday's home opener at Blue Pony Stadium.
The Ponies racked up another 300 yards of total offense and got outstanding performances from their skill position players en route to capturing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Trophy - given to the winner of the annual game - for the first time since the 2000 season.
"I thought we played really well again this week," said Havre High head coach Troy Purcell. "I don't know if our offensive execution was quite as sharp as against Sidney, but the kids played hard and the offense scored a lot of points."
Coming into Saturday's big showdown with the Bulldogs, Purcell was concerned about several things, including whether his team could keep up the offensive pace it started in Sidney last week as well as how it would stop Whitefish tailback Jolly Righetti.
The Ponies answered one question and the other didn't seem to matter. Righetti ran for a whopping 201 yards on 33 carries but was never a difference as Whitefish scoring drives stalled several times in the red zone.
"Righetti is an even better runner than I thought he would be," Purcell said. "He gave us a lot of trouble in between the tackles, but they just didn't score the points I thought they might. Our defense really stepped up and stopped them in some critical situations."
The first quarter of the game was somewhat sloppy as the teams traded several turnovers. The Bulldogs turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions and Havre also had a turnover in between.
But, after Whitefish's second turnover, Havre capitalized on its good field position as junior Gary Wagner hit senior Daine Solomon on a 30-yard pass that resulted in the first score of the game and gave Havre a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Ponies didn't take long to pad their lead. Wagner found junior tailback Scott Robinson on a screen pass for 38 yards to move them into scoring position early in the second quarter. Two plays later, Wagner fired his second TD strike of the day to junior wideout Coda Tchida, this time for 17 yards to build a 14-0 lead.
Down 14-0, the Bulldogs answered putting together a 69-yard, four-minute drive together that ended with a 20-yard TD scamper by Righetti that got them to within 14-7.
However, the Ponies stole the momentum right back on the ensuing possession as Wagner found Tchida again for a 20-yard scoring pass just before the half ended. The final touchdown of the half gave the Ponies a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead and Purcell said that the last score of the half was key.
"We had an opportunity to take advantage of them giving us the ball back in their own territory," Purcell said. "And Gary did a great job of rolling out and finding Coda. That gave us a nice cushion at the half.
"Coda Tchida, I thought, had an outstanding day getting open," Purcell added. "He did a good job of executing his routes."
The second half of the pivotal non-conference tilt quickly turned into a laugher for the Ponies. Havre scored twice in the third period including a 22-yard scamper by Colby Mader, on a "fumblerooski" play.
Later in the quarter, Havre struck again on a 77-yard TD run by Robinson. The junior also put the exclamation point on the game by scoring the final touchdown of the day in the fourth period. With the Bulldogs threatening to get back into the scoring column, Robinson intercepted Whitefish quarterback Taylor Ferda's pass at the Havre 18-yard line and then took the ball all the way down the left side line to give the Ponies a 42-7 win.
"Scott Robinson had a a really big day," Purcell said. "He was all over the field and he was a big part of this win."
Leading the way for the Ponies offensively was the duo of Wagner and Robinson.
Wagner was 11-18 for 181 yards and three touchdowns while Robinson rushed for 80 yards on seven carries as well as catching four balls for 59 yards.
Tchida added two catches for 47 yards and two TD's and Solomon also had 47 yards on three catches and a touchdown. Havre also got solid defensive outings from Brett Michels, who had 12 tackles, and Craig Kallenberger, who added 11 tackles.
"I thought we executed when we had to and this was a real nice win for us," Purcell said. "I am really happy to be 2-0 right now after playing two of the top programs in Class A football.
"Now we have to turn our attention to the next game and continue to work on the things that we still need to get better at, like our run defense. We still have to eliminate some of the penalties and mental mistakes that we're making."
The next game for the Ponies will be Friday night when they continue their assault on the powers of the Western A division. Havre will take on the Columbia Falls Wildkats at 7 p.m. in Columbia Falls.
Havre 42, Whitefish 7
Whitefish 0 7 0 0 - 7
Havre 7 14 14 7 - 42
Havre - Daine Solomon 31 pass from Gary Wagner (Solomon kick), 2:24
Havre - Coda Tchida 18 pass from Wagner (Solomon kick), 11:02
Whitefish -Jolly Righetti 18 run (Righetti kick), 7:37
Havre - Tchida 31 pass from Wagner (Solomon kick), :07
Havre - Colby Mader 22 run (Solomon kick), 8:07
Havre - Scott Robinson 77 run (Solomon kick), 4:54
Havre - Robinson 82 interception return (Solomon kick), 4:09
Rushing - Whitefish, Jolly Righetti 33-201, Brad Kuntz 4-8, Taylor Ferda 7-(-4); Havre, Scott Robinson 7-80, Gary Wagner 9-22, Colby Mader 6-40.
Passing - Whitefish, Ferda 8-18-2-56; Havre, Wagner 11-18-1-3-180.
Receiving - Whitefish, Kevin Scott 3-25, Righetti 2-7, Chris Hicks 2-17, Scott McCracken 1-7; Havre, Daine Solomon 3-47, Marc Mariani 2-27, Robinson 4-59, Coda Tchida 2-47.