By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
DRUMMOND - People who watched the Class C state championship football game on Saturday in Drummond will long wonder: Would suspended Big Sandy star Mason Ophus have changed the outcome of the Drummond Trojans' 48-8 dominating championship win?
The answer is, of course, yes, if there were about three or four of him who could have gone in all at once.
Drummond put on yet another dominating show in front of the more than 2,000 people in attendance, serving notice that it is by far the best team in Class C.
"That's an awesome football team," said Big Sandy head coach Scott Chauvet. "We always tell the kids that you don't want to lose; you want to get beat. We got beat today. That's a good football team."
Indeed, the Trojans capped one of the most dominating seasons in any classification of football. With Big Sandy's lone touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Gage Brumwell to Devin Genereux and the subsequent two-point conversion on a short pass from Brumwell to Skylar Pearson, the Pioneers accomplished something that 10 other teams failed to do against Drummond - score.
The Drummond defense allowed a ridiculously low total of 14 points - the other six points coming against Sheridan - on the entire season. The Trojans shut down a powerful Pioneer offense, limiting it to 88 total yards, including 12 yards rushing. All-state running back Skylar Pearson, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards on the season, was slowed by a thigh injury, a slippery playing surface and a relentless swarm of Trojan tacklers, and rushed for 11 yards on 12 carries.
"We're blessed with the type of kids where if one makes a mistake, the other seven just fly to the football," said Drummond head coach Jim Oberweiser. "I've also got two great assistant coaches that spend a lot of time with our defense. We have size up front and speed in the secondary. They're just very opportunistic."
Drummond is just as dominating on offense. Saturday's 48 points was the 10th consecutive time Drummond has scored more than 40 points in a game.
The Trojans rolled up 315 yards of total offense, including 257 yards rushing in a physical game.
After a sluggish first quarter, Drummond's offense was ignited by something it doesn't use that often - a forward pass.
Senior quarterback Ty Graybeal connected with younger brother Brett on a perfect pass over the middle from 38 yards out to give Drummond a 6-0 lead, just two plays into the second quarter.
Drummond stopped Big Sandy on the ensuing possession and capitalized on good field position. The Trojans needed just six plays to cover 40 yards as Graybeal scrambled from the grasp of Alex Thornton and uncorked an ugly but effective 10-yard pass to an uncovered Chase Reynolds in the end zone.
Big Sandy looked to have gotten a break as Genereux picked off a poor pass from Reynolds on a halfback pass and returned it 17 yards into Drummond territory. However, Big Sandy's Gage Brumwell fumbled the quarterback-center exchange on the very next play, giving the ball back to Drummond.
"To win a championship you need a little bit of luck and to get some breaks," Chauvet said. "We didn't get many and we didn't capitalize on the few we did."
Drummond used that possession to put together another lengthy drive, which culminated with a Graybeal-to-Graybeal connection from 9 yards out with 5.7 seconds remaining in the half.
"Getting that score right at the end let us go into halftime with a lot of momentum," Oberweiser said.
Drummond added to its lead as another Big Sandy fumble set up a Chase Reynolds 7-yard touchdown run.
Down 28-0 against a defense like Drummond's, the Pioneers hadn't dug themselves a hole; rather, it was a canyon.
The Pioneers got the score from Genereux with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter. A much needed defensive stop and solid 28-yard punt return by Genereux appeared to shift the momentum a little toward Big Sandy. However, a bad snap over Brumwell's head on fourth down and a subsequent intentional grounding call cost Big Sandy a loss of 38 yards on the play, giving Drummond the ball on Big Sandy's 2-yard line. Fullback Mac Anderson plunged across from 1 yard out to push the lead to 34-8.
The Trojans tacked on two more scores late in the fourth quarter to add to the margin of victory.
"I thought the game was closer than the score indicated," Chauvet said. "We took it to them physically in the first quarter and didn't back down the rest of the game."
Reynolds finished with a game-high 102 yards rushing on 26 carries. However, the explosive running back's longest run was 11 yards in the game.
"It was a very physical game," Reynolds said. "We'd knock them down and they kept getting back up and getting back up."
With Ophus on the sidelines in street clothes, Chauvet conceded that things might have been a little different if his star tight end/defensive end were out there, but how much of a difference was uncertain.
"He would have made a difference emotionally, but no one man makes a team," Chauvet said. "He's an outstanding kid. It was difficult seeing him standing on the sidelines. He would have been ready to play. He learned a big lesson from this week."
Said Anderson: "We practiced all week as if Ophus was going to be out there. We would have been ready if he played. I don't know how much of a difference he would have made."
In retrospect, Chauvet admitted that his team faced a juggernaut on Saturday.
"They deserve the trophy," Chauvet said. "There's nobody better than them. Physically, they took it to us. They have so much size and speed. But we're not a bad team ourselves."
Big Sandy finishes the season with an 11-1 record and the highest finish for any Pioneer football team since 1931.
Big Sandy 0 0 8 0 - 8
Drummond 0 20 8 20 - 48
DRUMMOND - Brett Graybeal 38 pass from Ty Graybeal (run failed)
DRUMMOND - Chase Reynolds 10 pass from T. Graybeal (pass failed)
DRUMMOND - B. Graybeal 10 pass from T. Graybeal (Reynolds run)
DRUMMOND - Reynolds 7 run (Reynolds run)
BIG SANDY - Devin Genereux 32 pass from Gage Brumwell (Skylar Pearson pass from Brumwell)
DRUMMOND - Mac Anderson 1 run (run failed)
DRUMMOND - T. Graybeal 24 run (B. Graybeal pass from T. Graybeal)
DRUMMOND - Cody Baker 8 run (run failed)
First downs 9 16
Rushes-yds. 31-12 62-257
Passing yds. 76 58
Total yds. 88 315
Passing 8-14-1 3-4-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 0-0
Punts-avg. 3-30 5-27
Penalties-yds. 4-20 6-30
RUSHING - Big Sandy: Brumwell 13-12, Pearson 12-11, Paul Reishus 5-21, Team 1-(-32). Drummond: Reynolds 26-102, Anderson 14-51, T. Graybeal 6-37, Cody Baker 4-37, Tyrel Cochrell 10-32, Jordan Lind 2-(-2).
PASSING - Big Sandy: Brumwell 8-14-1-76. Drummond: T. Graybeal 3-3-0-58, Reynolds 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING - Big Sandy: Pearson 4-25, Genereux 3-50, Adam Jesperson 1-1. Drummond: B. Graybeal 2-48, Reynolds 1-10.