Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, and after receiving a firstround bye in this year's Class A playoffs, the Havre High football team is anxious to take the field. And on Saturday, the No. 5 Ponies will finally get that chance. The 7-2 Ponies will host the 7-2 No. 2 Dillon Beavers in a Class A quarterfinal at Blue Pony stadium at 1 p.m. The Beavers are coming off of an impressive 48-28 win over Whitefish in the first round of playoffs last week, and are playing at a very high level coming into Havre. To pen up the season, the Beavers came out firing. They defeated Polson 42-12. But like the Ponies, they opened the season with a win, but then dropped the second game. The Beavers were defeated by Billings Central 41-35 on overtime. The next two games for the Beavers took them back in a positive direction. They were on a two game home stand, and Defeated Hardin 38-22. The Beavers then opened conference play by trampling Hamilton by 30 points, defeating them 51-21. It was then a tough Frenchtown team that proved to be too much for the Beavers. Giving them their second loss of the season, they were defeated 42-8. But even with their biggest loss of the season, the Beavers were able to move the ball. They had 345 total yards of offense, but just couldn’t seem to get into the end zone after four interceptions. Their only score came on Garrett Banning reception in the third quarter. After the tough loss, the Beavers came back and made the best out what was left in conference play. They defeated Stevensville 37-0, Anaconda 46-8 and Corvallis 42-14 to go 4-1 in conference play, and 6-2 in regular season. With the win in the first round against Whitefish, the Beavers are riding a fourgame winning streak into Blue Pony stadium. And they have defeated their last four opponents by at least 20 points. But with plenty of time to prepare, the Ponies are ready for whatever the Beavers throw at them. During the two weeks of preparation, the Ponies went back to the basics, and worked on the fundamentals. With so much time off, it was an opportunity to just clean some things up, and give the players a chance to get back to 100 percent, both mentally and physically. “The one negative about it is that it is hard to simulate game speed during practice.” Havre High head coach Kevin Sukut said. “It’s kind of a give and take thing, but we have worked hard to make sure that doesn’t effect us. It has a been a typical week of preparation for us.” All of the preparation time is now over, and it is time for the Ponies to transfer all of that into their first layoff game in two years. The game between the Ponies and Beavers should be very close. Both teams match up in size, and in the skill positions. And with both having two losses, they both loss to Billings Central. Being evenly matched, the team who makes the least amount of mistakes on Saturday will come away with the win. “Football is football when it comes down to it.” Sukut said. “You have to execute things no matter what offense or defense you run. You have to execute the little things. Games like this come down to the basics.” On offense, the Ponies are going to continue with what has given them so much success this season. It is no secret they will go into the game with the intent of equally mixing the pass and run. “When you get to this point in time, and get into the playoffs, every program is going to add a few wrinkles.” Sukut said. “But I think you rely on what got you there. You play to your strengths” Putting together a complete game will also be key for the Ponies. They have had trouble with starting slow this season, and need to change that. If they can continue to finish strong, and also add a strong start, the Ponies will be contenders against the Beaver. And on defense, the Ponies are going to have to play very well. They have been able to bend but not break this season, and that needs to continue. If the Ponies cant keep the Beavers offensive scoring at bay, and stop the big play, they may be in for a long afternoon. “You have to win or go home.” Sukut said. “And they certainly understand that, and we are all exited about the challenge and really excited about the opportunity.” The Beavers' star quarterback, Bryce Carver will also be a factor. He is an explosive athlete, and can make big plays with his arm and his feet. He is averaging over 100 yards passing, and over 200 yards rushing this season. “He’s a good athlete.” Sukut said. “He’s as good a quarterback as there is in the state in Class A football, and our defense is going to have their hands full with him.” Havre will try to match Dillon's highpowered offense with its own. The Ponies average nearly 200 yards on the ground, and quarterback Beau Briese has been an excellent compliment to the Ponies' stable of talented running backs. Senior Nate Christianson has also emerged as a multi-position scoring threat for HHS in recent weeks. Overall, the Ponies are prepared, and very excited to play. They have homefield advantage, and the athletes are hungry for a playoff win, and the opportunity to advance to the semifinals. “We’re just excited for the challenge.” Sukut said. “We’re excited to be part of the playoffs and I don’t think we are overwhelmed, we are ready to go. Everybody welcomes the chance to get out and prove what kind of football team we can be.” After waiting almost two full season for a playoff game at Havre High, the Ponies will finally take the field on Saturday in their Class A quarterfinal against Dillon. The Beavers are one of the winningest teams in Class A football in recent years, capturing four state championships this decade. Kickoff at Blue Pony Stadium for the game between Dillon and HHS is slated for 1p.m. Saturday.