(Results of Saturday's game will be post on havredailynews.com at the end of the game.)
(Havre High vs Whitefish
(Blue Pony Stadium
Saturday at 2 p.m.
Radio: 610 KOJM AM_)
It’s almost game time.
Those words are what the coaching staff of the Havre High Blue Pony football team has been drilling into the kids all week long as the Blue Ponies prepare for their season opener.
Saturday afternoon the Central A Ponies will open their season against the Northwestern A Whitefish Bulldogs at home. At Blue Pony Stadium, kickoff will be at 2 p.m., where coaches and players alike will be eager to get their seasons started.
“We have been going for two or three weeks and the kids have been hitting each other,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “They are just ready to get the season started and play a different color jersey.
“The kids are getting the taste back in their mouth,” Christenson said. “To get out there and to play hard and wanting to win a game. Going to practice means something, but this really means something now that we’re keeping track of wins and losses and starting our goal to win the conference and competing for state.”
Enthusiasm has spiked at Pony practice over the last few days.
The intensity has been taken up a notch, and the kids know it’s game week and just what those three words entail. The Ponies have spent adequate time preparing for the Bulldogs, meaning they have seen the scout tGame Time: Ponies ready for Bulldogseams and watched the game films.
But just like the Ponies, the Bulldog’s program has a little different look this season. Whitefish has a new head coach and the Ponies won’t know exactly what to expect until they see the Bulldogs in person.
“We kind of have an idea of what they are going to run on defense,” Christenson said. “We feel pretty confident, but what they are going to run on offense, that’s a mystery so we are preparing for everything. And what we have installed on defense, I think we should be solid against anything they throw at us.”
On the defensive side of the ball, HHS needs to, first of all, play hard. But beyond that, the Ponies need to communicate. And whether the Blue Pony defense is attempting to stop the running game or the passing game, they need to execute the fundamentals and wrap up and make clean tackles.
On offense, the Ponies have similar responsibilities in that they need to always play hard. They need to play fast, play to the whistle, play smart and execute their blocking assignments.
“The kids are going to be prepared and they are going to be fired up,” Christenson said. “I have all the confidence in that they are going to go out and play hard.”
Every position on the offense and defense is under evaluation this weekend.
Being the first game of the season, the HHS coaching staff wants to keep an eye on everybody, making sure they know their assignments and are executing properly.
But with a handful of changes being made to the offense this season, some positions may earn an extra set of eyes or two.
Justin Jensen is stepping into the starting quarterback position this year. He started just two varsity games a year ago, but has adjusted to the updated spread offense very well so far.
Casey Schaub and Ryan Brandt also have some big shoes to fill as they make up the Pony backfield behind graduated Kent Pattison and John Perrodin, who put the Ponies' running game on the map last season. Schaub and Brandt can expect to be the Ponies' workhorses carrying the ball, as well expect to see a lot of action running the option.
Logan Connor and Corderro Strickland locked up the two starting wide receiver positions and make up a solid duo for the Pony offense that will likely display a vast array of three and four receiver sets.
With a new head coach, a relatively new offense and it being the season opener, the Ponies may not be perfect on Saturday. But with what Christenson has done in the offseason, and recently in practice, the Ponies are confident that they will come out and start the season off right.
“There will be first-game jitters,” Christenson said. “And the kids will forget a couple things and make some mental errors. But I have been happy with how the offense has progressed and the way the kids have picked up the things we have talked about. The attitudes are great and the enthusiasm is awesome. As long as the first game jitters don’t get the kids, and they play the way they know how, I think we will be fine.”
The Blue Ponies will get their season started on Saturday when they face Whitefish at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m.