The year was 2004,
that year marks the last time the Havre High Blue Pony football team not only won a state playoff game, but also the last time they wound up in the semifinals.
But thanks to a great game on Saturday, 2011 marks the year the Ponies removed both of those thorns from their sides.
Saturday afternoon was major milestone for the Ponies' football team and second year head coach Jason Christenson. After clinching the Central A title two weeks ago, the Ponies came out of a first round bye and earned a 30-14 win over Hamilton in the Class A quarterfinals. Not only was it the first time the Ponies won the conference in the last three years, it was also the first postseason win, and will be the first semifinal appearance since HHS won the state championship in 2004.
“This was very exciting from a coaching standpoint,” Christenson said. “We watched our guys go out and win a playoff football game; something Havre hasn’t done for a while now. It is a huge monkey off of our backs and we just are pleased with how the kids stepped up and played hard. I am super proud of all of our kids.”
With the win, the Ponies improved to 7-3 this season. And even though the Ponies suffered a three-game slide (all nonconference) during the regular season, they are now riding high on a six-game winning streak. The last time the Ponies lost was in September, when Sidney narrowly edged them in Sidney.
But the Blue Ponies have rebounded quite nicely this season, and this post season streak has been something these varsity players have been waiting for, for years now.
“It is just an awesome feeling to reach the semifinals,” Havre High senior Ryan Brandt said. “We all thought we were going to be able to get there last year, but we ended up losing to the state championship team. But this year we are back and we are headed to the state semis.”
Eli Hinebauch has also been a major contributor for the Ponies over the last two seasons especially. Now as a senior, and part of one of the top linebacker groups Class A, he too is happy to reach this point in his last run as a prep football player.
“It feels great,” Hinebauch said. “I have gotten the chance to play in the playoffs two years before, but we suffered a loss in both of those games. Everybody really wanted this win and this feels great to experience a win in the playoffs, and hopefully we can make it to the chipper.”
For star wide receiver and defensive end Thurman Holdsclaw, this is all new for a different reason. This is Holdsclaw’s first season with the Ponies football program and he has been key. He is happy with the teams’ performance on Saturday, and the win made it worth all the hard work the Ponies have put in.
“I am definitely excited about that (the teams success and playoff win),” Holdsclaw said. “But we had to beat Hamilton before we could get to the semifinals so we were really focused all week. It was a big win.”
HHS improved to 7-3 on the season with their quarterfinal win over Hamilton. But the Ponies work isn’t done just yet. With another long week of preparation ahead of them, the Ponies will take to the road on Saturday where they will take on Dillon in the semis.