Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It has been a long strange trip for the Chinook High School football team. Three years ago it was struggling in District 2B, a district it once dominated.
A year ago, the school was without a varsity program. This season Chinook dropped to Class C and had to adapt to playing eight-man football. Now, things seem right with the world as the Beeters prepare to host the first round of the 2005 Class C playoffs on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Power-Dutton-Brady Titans.
Coming into this season, no one really knew what to expect out of the Beeters' first year in eight-man football. Since August, the Beeters have won every game they have played. Chinook romped to an 8-0 record and the Northern C North Division championship.
Along the way, the Beeters developed one of the highest scoring offenses in all of Class C football, averaging more than 40 points per game. Chinook's defense is also top-rated.
At one point this season, the Beeters were surrendering less than a touchdown per game. That number inflated somewhat in Chinook's only two close calls this year. The Beeters outlasted Big Sandy in a wild shootout in Chinook three weeks ago. The next week, Chinook found itself in another scoring fest against then fourth-ranked Gardiner. The Beeters prevailed in that contest, 42-40.
While Chinook possesses one of the deepest rosters in Class C, it isn't without some outstanding individual talent. Quarterback Adam Hayes and running back/wide receiver Chad Beck are certain all-conference picks. Casey Barber has also had a solid season for the Beeters offensively, as has wide receiver Tad Darrah.
Chinook's suffocating defense has been a result of a total team effort. The defense has been paramount to the Beeters' success this season and on Saturday, they will be called on again when the Titans come calling.
Chinook's first playoff game in seven years should be a barn burner. The Beeters will enter Saturday's contest favored to win. But the Titans have been a Northern C perennial playoff contender and this year they finished second in the Northern C South Division with a 6-2 record.
Power-Dutton-Brady is one of the highest scoring teams in the Northern C Division and it has several quality running backs. The Titans are a run-first team, but they do have the skill players to move the ball downfield.
The winner of Saturday's game will face the winner of tonight's first round matchup between Drummond and Sheridan.
Saturday's Class C playoff game between Chinook and Power-Dutton-Brady is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. in Chinook. The game is expected to be a sellout. It can be heard locally on 101.3 KRYK-FM.