Butte Central has one of the top prep football programs in the state. And with the Havre High Blue Ponies hosting the Maroons on homecoming weekend, a Blue Pony win would be huge.
Tonight at Blue Pony stadium in Havre, the Central A Ponies (3-1, 1-0) will host the conference rival Maroons for Havre’s homecoming matchup at 7 p.m.
And after the Ponies rolled over the Lewistown Golden Eagles 42-0 in conference play a week ago, HHS is looking to go 2-0 to start their conference schedule.
“Every conference game is a must win for seeding purposes in the playoffs,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “Butte Central is very good football team, they are very well coached and a very tough team athletically. It’s going to be a good test for us and it’s a big game.
“Homecoming always adds a little extra excitement,” Christenson added. “Everybody is hyped up. The kids are involved in a lot of other activities around school and that’s great, but sometimes it draws away form their focus a bit. As a coaching staff we just have to keep reminding them what’s at stake and what’s on the line for them.”
At the beginning of the season the Ponies set the goal of becoming Central A champions. And if they could get a win over the No. 5 Maroons (4-1) this weekend that would greatly increase the Ponies chance of achieving that goal. But Christenson isn’t worried, he said that this was a focused group that has a real desire to win.
The Maroons have a very talented offense.
And unlike many teams the Ponies have faced this season, the Maroons may actually favor the passing game over the running game. Butte Central has a talented core of receivers and a very talented quarterback in Jonathan Richards.
Richards is a 6-3 215-pound superstar who recently committed to play football for the Montana Grizzlies. Regular Maroon's quarterback Andy Ritter is recovering from injury and Richards has done an outstanding job filling in, converting from his normal wide receiver position. He has also lined up as a running back, defensive end, safety as well as the punter.
The Pony defense can expect the Maroons to run a lot of multi receiver sets. And Richards can either connect with his receivers with a decent arm, or hurt the Ponies with his legs.
“They do a good job mixing it up and keeping the defense guessing,” Christenson said. “We are just going to break down game film and prepare for everything we think they are going to do. We are just going to prepare for a balanced attack, but hopefully we can come up a few wrinkles that keep them off balance.”
On defense, HHS needs to limit the Maroon's production. The Ponies have to play aggressive up front, and the defensive line has to find a way to get in the Butte Central rushing and passing lanes. According to Christenson, it’s going to take the defensive line recreating the line of scrimmage as well as the defense mixing up their coverages if they want to be successful.
Havre wants to try and cause some confusion for the Maroon offense, and force turnovers.
“We just have to play fundamental and sound football,” Christenson said. “If we can play as hard and as fast as we did last week, I think we will have a good shot.”
On offense, the Ponies are really stressing clock management again this week.
Last weekend the Ponies found success on big plays once again. Logan Connor and Corderro Strickland both reeled in touchdown passes from 60 or more yards. And Casey Schaub had big scores on the ground including one from 44 yards out.
But tonight the Ponies want to eat up as much time off the clock as possible. Thy want to do anything they can to keep the Maroon offense off the field, which means sustaining drives for long periods of time then scoring.
The Ponies will take big plays if they can get them, but they don’t want to have to rely on them.
“We’re still going to come out and attack,” Christenson said. “But I think we will get our offense in a situation where we can run the ball effectively. We need to get (Casey ) Schaub to hurt them with his legs.”
Schaub has been effective in the running game all season. And with Ryan Brandt also lining up in the backfield, the Ponies have the skill to push the ball down the field on the ground.
If the Ponies can get a win over the Maroons, it will be huge for Havre’s momentum, as well as bring them one step closer to locking up the Central A conference title. The winner of tonight's game will certainly have the inside track.
Tonight at 7 the Ponies will host the Maroons at the Blue Pony Stadium in Havre in a Central A and homecoming matchup.
Ponies have high hopes on homecoming
HHS faces Butte Central tonight
Published: Friday, October 1st, 2010
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