Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Big Sandy Pioneers football season - once so promising - ended in bitter disappointment Wednesday night.
The Pioneers needed a win over visiting Sunburst to clinch a berth in the 2005 Class C playoffs, but instead came up empty, as the Refiners ran away from Big Sandy, 52-35.
The Pioneers came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, scoring on their first possession when quarterback Justin Willis ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run. On its next possession, Big Sandy struck again, this time by way of a 45-yard run by tailback Lawrence Jappe. The touchdown by Jappe gave Big Sandy a 12-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
That, however, is when disaster struck. First, the Pioneers lost a standout defensive player in Kyle Danreuther in the first quarter to what was believed to be a concussion.
From that point, Sunburst scored three straight touchdowns, two on long runs by Matt Tomscheck. Tomscheck's second score gave Sunburst a 25-12 lead. Big Sandy managed to answer with a 52-yard TD pass from Willis to Ryan Pokorny to make the score 26-20. The touchdown would be the last for Willis, however, as he also ended up leaving the game with a concussion in the second quarter. The Pioneers' chances for victory seemed to go with him.
Sunburst tacked on one more score before halftime to lead 32-20.
In the third period, the Refiners seemingly finished the Pioneers off for good, scoring 14 more points to up their lead to 46-20.
Big Sandy scored twice in the fourth quarter, both coming by way of long pass plays from backup quarterback Chris Labuda. But the Refiners had too much firepower and didn't let Big Sandy get any closer.
The loss to Sunburst means that Big Sandy finishes the regular season at 6-2. The Pioneers started the year 6-0 before dropping back-to-back games to Chinook and the Refiners. Sunburst is 5-3 overall but has just two losses in Northern C play. The win over Big Sandy means the Refiners will take the second spot in the North Division in the Class C playoffs.
Sunburst 20 12 14 6 - 52
Big Sandy 12 8 0 12 - 35
BS - Justin Willis 44 run (kick failed)
SB - Reece Clark 3 run (Mitch Diegel pass to Hoveland)
BS - Lawrence Jappe 45 run (run failed)
SB - Clark 75 kickoff return (pass failed)
SB - Matt Tomscheck 26 run (run failed)
SB - Tomscheck 26 run (run failed)
BS - Willis 52 pass to Ryan Pokorny (Willis run)
SB - Tomscheck 1 run (run failed)
SB - Clark 6 run (run failed)
SB - Clark 3 run (Tomscheck run)
BS - Chris LaBuda 60 pass to Jappe (run failed)
SB - Tomscheck 10 run (run failed)
BS - LaBuda 27 pass to Pokorny (run failed)
Chinook 51, North Star 0
Meanwhile, in Rudyard, it didn't take long for the Chinook Sugarbeeters to ensure a perfect regular season and a Northern C North Division title in its first year in Class C football.
The Beeters stunned the North Star Knights by scoring 23 points in the first quarter en route to a 51-0 win. Chad Beck got the scoring started with a 1-yard TD run on Chinook's first possession. He backed that up minutes later with a 42-yard TD scamper. Beck's day also included 35-yard punt return in the second quarter. That score gave the Beeters an insurmountable 37-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Adam Hayes threw a touchdown pass to Matt Finley and ran for another score. Marty Birky threw a late TD to Frank Sharples.
Chinook (8-0) will now have more than a week to prepare for its first playoff opponent. The Beeters will host the first round of the Class C playoffs.
North Star's season is finished with a 3-5 overall record.
Chinook 23 14 7 7 - 51
North Star 0 0 0 0 - 0
CHI-Chad Beck 1 run (Luke Whitney run)
CHI-Beck 42 run (Whitney kick)
CHI-Matt Finley 12 pass from Adam Hayes (Whitney run)
CHI-Hayes 1 run (kick failed)
CHI-Beck 35 punt return (Hayes run)
CHI-Maddox 2 run (Whitney kick)
CHI-Frank Sharples 30 pass from Birky (Reid kick)
In other action around the Northern C Division, the Chester/J-I Hawks wrapped up their regular season with a 60-6 thrashing of Hays-Lodge Pole in Chester on Wednesday. The win gave Chester a 4-4 record this season. The Thunderbirds finished 1-7.
On Tuesday, the Rocky Boy Stars' difficult season came to an end at the hands of Power-Dutton-Brady. The Titans downed the Stars 51-0. Rocky Boy's season ends with a 1-7 overall record.
Stats from those games were not available.