Every game inside the conference schedule is a must win.
The Havre High football team knows that.
And that is the goal tonight at 7, when the Blue Ponies travel to Lewistown to take on the Golden Eagles. HHS is hoping to rebound with their first conference win of the season (0-1) after dropping a game last Friday to Belgrade. This will be Lewistown’s first conference game of the season.
But the Ponies know this is going to be a tight matchup.
The Eagles (2-2) are in a similar boat, coming into a new season after losing a lot of varsity and senior talent, but they are always a team to stay competitive. They are still trying to fill the gaps as the season progresses, but have a lot of talent to work with nonetheless.
“They still had some good kids come out,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “And they are always weight room strong. They play hard and it is going to be a tough contest. They are very well disciplined, especially on their offensive line, and it is just going to be a tough contest all around.”
A talented offensive line anchors the Eagles’ offense. They have a lot of big bodies and play physical, perfect for pounding the ball down the field with 6-3, 230-pound running back in Dylan Stenseth. Stenseth handles the majority of the carries, but also opens up the entire playbook for an offense that loves to play extremely balanced.
The Eagles have some young, but talented wide receivers, and if they get going and can produce as well, the offense can become dangerous.
“They do a great job of mixing things up over there,” Christenson said. “We do know they love screen plays. We have worked on our screen defense all week long, so hopefully that will be sound, but we know we will see a mixed bag of run and pass plays. They don’t usually rely on one style over the other.”
For the Ponies, the game plan remains the same as it has for the last several outings.
The defense has to step up as a whole if they want to stop a well -rounded attack. And on offense, HHS has been putting the most weight back on their offensive line. That has been a key the last two weeks especially, and that has only magnified. Dustin Odegard, Travis Adams, Ruben Stewart, Tyler Adams, and Rocky Kuhr are the starting offensive linemen, and have been getting a lot of attention in practice. If they can play well, it will mean more production for quarterback Dane Warp, wide receivers Zach Plum, Thurman Holdsclaw and Thomas Gruber, as well as running backs Tristan Manuel and Holdsclaw.
“We are trying to get them disciplined in their block schemes,” Christenson said. “And get them to know who they pick up when there are stunting linebackers and stuff like that. We see a lot of stunts, but I think we have had a couple of really great sessions with those guys and they are learning and are getting better. Our quarterback got hit a ton a lot last week, and that is something the offensive line was pretty upset about.”
The Ponies and Eagles will kickoff tonight at 7 p.m. in Lewistown in a huge Central A showdown. Havre is back home to face Libby next Friday, then host Browning on Oct. 12 in Havre.