A program playing the role of an upset team can be extremely dangerous. And when the Havre High football team welcomes in the conference rival Browning Indians tonight in Havre, the Blue Ponies could find out just how dangerous.
Tonight the Ponies and Indians
will face off at 7 p.m. at the Blue Pony stadium. The Indians are looking for their first win of the season, while the Ponies have something much more important on the line, the playoffs.
If the Ponies can capture a win tonight, then they are almost guaranteed a spot in the Class A state playoffs.
“I have been telling the kids all week that Browning is a dangerous team and that they have to come out and play hard,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “But this is also a time to get better, not a time to slack off because Browning is 0-6, we need to do things great and the kids understand that.
“(And) a win puts us in the position we need to be in,” Christenson added. “But it will come down to wins, losses and the points system, so it is just one of those things, that we will have to see what happens when we are showering after the Livingston game (next Friday). That is when we will better know where things are at.”
A lot of things will have to happen to keep the Ponies out of the postseason if they can manage a win tonight, but first things first, they have to escape a dangerous Browning team.
And quarterback Jalen Groff leads the Indians. Groff is a very talented signal caller, who can make plays with his arm, as well as with his legs. His running ability may even be more dangerous than his passing ability, something the Ponies are well aware of, and have fully addressed this week in practice. HHS needs to contain Groff, and force him to use hi arm, not his legs.
“It is the same as always with them,” Christenson said. “They are a very dangerous team with some very god skill kids. Their quarterback (Groff) is very good and fast, and they utilize his speed. The less the ball is in his hands, the better we are. We want the ball out of his hands and in somebody else. Their other athletes are good, but just not as good as him.”
Havre should benefit greatly if they force Groff to stay in the pocket and make throws down field. With defensive backs like Zach Plum, already with seven interceptions this season, the Ponies will take their chances with teams attempting to make plays through the air. The Ponies also have speed in DB’s like Plum, Thomas Gruber and Chet Shrauger, matching up nicely with what the Indians like to do, break plays to the outside and burn defenses.
“We have made the defense aware of the dangers we are facing,” Christenson said “And they know that we have to keep that quarterback continued, and not running around outside the pocket. Our linebackers and defensive backs have to execute their tackles and understand where they need to be in relation to the quarterback.”
The defensive line and linebackers could also have a big game if they can break through the opposing offensive line. The Indians have had their share of injuries, leading to starting three freshmen on the offensive line last weekend. But still, last weekend in a loss to Lewistown, Groff had a 30-yard run and score, as well as a 60-yard throw and score to another dangerous weapon, wide receiver George Hall.
On offense, the Ponies are still in a tough predicament.
As much as Havre High would still like to get the running game on the same level as the passing game, it will be tougher than ever from here on out. The Ponies lost starting running back Tristan Manual for the season after his pregame knee injury a week ago. Thurman Holdsclaw will still get his carries, but the Ponies are also leaning on Jordan Schroeder to help carry the load.
“We are never going to be satisfied with just the passing game,” Christenson said. “We are still working just as hard as we did as practice one on our run blocks and our running game. Hopefully we will start to improve, and the offensive line is starting to recognize where they need to be, so they are getting better. But for some reason it is just a slow process this year, but we are still working on it and hopefully it just clicks. Tristan was a big loss. You lose a good kid like that, and you lose a good running back and a good athlete.”
If the running game doesn’t get going like wanted, the passing game will still need to produce. Quarterback Dane Warp is coming off of a win where he finished with nearly 200 yards passing and four touchdowns.
The Blue Ponies will look to get rolling on the ground tonight at 7 p.m. when they host the Browning Indians at Blue Pony stadium in Havre.
Havre vs Browning
Tonight, 7 p.m.
at Blue Pony Stadium
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