By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Havre Blue Pony football team played like it was in contention for a state title in its 16-6 win over the Dillon Beavers Saturday at Dillon.
Were playing as well as anyone in the state, said second-year head coach Dan Olson. Its a tragedy theyre only taking two teams out of our league this year. We suffered the two early losses and it really hurt us.
Havre opened its 1999 season with losses to Butte Central and Lewistown, which has kicked them from playoff contention.
The Blue Pony defense was the key over the Beavers, as they gained only 137 total yards. The Ponies held one of the top rushing teams in the conference to just 87 yards on the ground and 50 yards passing.
Because they shut them down, they gave our offense an opportunity to stay on the field a little more than we had been, Olson said. Our defense did the rest.
Senior quarterback Ricky Brown hit classmate David Heberly on a four-yard completion for a touchdown in the first quarter to lift the Ponies, 6-0.
Although David Knights extra point attempt was not good, he redeemed himself later in the quarter, connecting on a 22-yard field goal to extend the Pony lead to 9-0.
In the second quarter, junior Brent Finneman scampered for an 11-yard touchdown run, putting the Ponies up, 16-0. The Beavers would score its lone touchdown on a rushing drive in the third quarter. The two-point conversion was not good.
Defensively, Grant Roman, who played tough all night at cornerback, and senior Nate Baltrusch each grabbed key interceptions for the Ponies in the contest.
Senior Doug Kallenberger caused a fumble in the matchup.
Senior Tyler Bebee led the Ponies with 12 solo tackles, followed by Ryan Fink with 10, and senior Ricky Brown with nine.
Landon Grant and Brent Finneman each tallied a sack in the contest.
Finneman led the offensive rushing attack with 25 carries for 155 yards and one touchdown, his best effort of the year.
Ryan McIntosh notched 15 carries for 67 yards.
Brown completed 8-of-19 passes for 127 yards, including one touchdown.
We need to recognize our offensive line, Michael Holden, Jesse Suek, Troy Worden, Chris Klobofski, Matt Sasaki and Heberly, Olson said. They played very well. They came up really big for us.
Baltrusch had five receptions for 82 yards to lead the Blue Pony receivers.
Kallenberger had one reception for 31 yards, while sophomore Danny Wirtzberger had one reception for 10 yards and Heberly had one four-yard reception for a touchdown.
Its fun to be playing well, and our seniors are really stepping it up and helping our younger kids along, Olson said. They didnt want to have an unsuccessful year and they were able to rebound and play some pretty good football later on.
The defensive line had nine hurries on the quarterback, forcing the Beavers into a quick-throwing offense.
The linebackers, behind Knight, Tyler Bebee and Ryan Fink, were strong up front for the Ponies.
Roman, who played one of his few starts on the season, tallied an interception, hurried the quarterback twice and notched five tackles for the Ponies.
He played extremely well, said defensive coordinator John Larsen. I was really happy with how he did.
The Ponies, 4-3 overall and 4-2 in the Central A, are out of playoff contention for the first time since 1993.
As a team, offensively and defensively, the whole thing, it was the best game of the season, Larsen said. Its too bad that we get left out of the playoffs, but were really proud of the kids. Were playing, at this point, for pride. You wouldnt know we werent a team playing for the playoffs. Were finishing up this year like we should. Its a big tribute to our seniors.
The Blue Ponies will host Anaconda Friday, where they will honor the senior parents, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.