Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
At times this season the Havre High football team hasn’t been too explosive. But with a team that has such high expectations, people knew that it was only a matter of time before the Ponies' true potential was revealed. And for a team with its sights set on a conference title and a state championship, a 45-7 blowout out over a good Butte Central team was just what the Ponies needed on Friday night in their homecoming game at Blue Pony Stadium. The Ponies big win on Friday night was a collective effort. The offense, defense and special teams all stepped up their game, and made sure that another game wasn’t going to slip away from them like last week in Sidney. “When you look at things across the board, special teams, offense and defense, it was a pretty good team effort.” Havre head coach Kevin Sukut said. “We are pretty satisfied with it.” Going into the game, the Ponies were most concerned with Butte Central wide receiver Casey Norbeck and quarterback Andy Ritter. They knew that if they wanted to win, they needed the Maroons top two players out of rhythm. Unfortunately, what took Ritter out of the game was injury. But Norbeck's struggles can be placed on the shoulders of the Pony defense and its ability to stop the Maroons run and pass game. Norbeck, who has been accustomed to racking up 100-yard games was held to only 49 yards on Friday night. Since the Ponies had shut down the two most productive players on the Maroons' offense, the rest of their offense couldn’t really function. Quarterbacks Ritter and his replacement, Jonathan Richards, only went 8-of-15 for 61 yards, and the Maroons only rushed for another 91. The Maroons' only score came from a Norbeck reception, but it was after the Ponies Adam Briese threw an interception on their own five-yard line putting the Maroons in prime position to score in the fourth quarter. Paul Jensen led the Ponies with 11 tackles and one sack, and Ethan Hinebauch was right behind him with 10 tackles and one sack of his own. The Ponies also had two interceptions, one by Jordan Haas and the other by Mike Hickman. “You have to give kudos to our whole defense.” Sukut said. “Starting with coach Joy and coach Roe with their gameplan our defense played great.” On the other side of the ball, the Ponies' offense also played exceptionally well on Friday. They put many drives together, which helped keep the Butte Central offense off the field. And most importantly, they didn’t just put drives together, they put together scoring drives. Got the Ponies on the board after he punched in a five-yard run with just over 4:30 to go. Jarrett McLain, Pattison, Ethan Hinebauch and Adam Briese all ran the ball well for the Ponies, and even though they all didn't score, the HHS run-game of 33 carries for 252 yards played a huge part in their win. “In this being the biggest game that we have had to play in up to this point, we knew we were going to have to run the ball to have success.” Sukut said. “And they did a phenomenal job for us.” Then it wasn’t until a 1:16 in the second quarter and after three drives ending in a punt when the Ponies went up 13-0 after Beau Briese connected with Hickman for his first of two touchdown receptions of he night. “We felt that against Sidney and Billings Central and Glendive we didn’t really play our best football.” Hickman said. “And we really wanted to send a message saying that we are back up there with the top teams in the state.” At Halftime the Ponies held a 13-0 lead over the Maroons, and things were just starting to click. In the third quarter, the Ponies got on the board two more times. First with 6:30 left in the quarter on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Van Voast to Hickman, and then on a 15-yard TD reception by Nate Christianson from Beau Briese two minutes later. At that point, the Ponies were leading 28-0 heading into the fourth quarter. And with the support of the home crowed behind them, the Ponies was playing like a state champion contender. The offensive line had enough outstanding protection and blocking in them to put two more touchdowns on the board in the final stanza. One came from a short Adam Briese run with 8:10 left in the game, and the last one came by Beau Briese on a quarterback keeper from two yards out. The entire offensive line, including Evan Ohm, Mitch Schnittgen, Will DeVries, Spencer Smith, Paul Jensen and Van Voast, all played exceptionally. “I think that it's time that we give our lineman a pat on the back.” Sukut said. “Because they have been getting it done for us. The last three weeks they have really been getting after it, and they are and have been a huge part of our success.” An offensive line has to have a good game, especially in a game with 347 total offensive yards and six touchdowns by five different players. Beau Briese had all day to find his receivers behind his line, and he went 6-of-8 for 95 yards with two touchdown passes, and one more on the ground. In a game where a team was so dominant, it's sometimes hard to find the negative, but when you are in a playoff hunt, every week means finding something to improve on. For the Ponies it's going to be penalties. They had a few too many against the Maroons. With four games left, the Ponies are now tied for first place in the Central A with Belgrade. On Friday, the Ponies(3-2) take their new and improved offense on the road as they take on Browning.