By Alan Sorensen
The Havre Blue Ponies knew what they had to do Friday night and they did it. They won their third consecutive league game and earned a berth in the state Class A football playoffs.
The Blue Ponies will travel to Whitefish next Saturday for their opening round match up against the Bulldogs. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.
The Ponies take a 4-1 league record into the playoffs. They finished with a 5-3 overall record.
Havre scored 32 unanswered points in the first quarter and tallied 39 for the first half as they rolled over Browning on the road 51 to 8.
"Our goal was to get on them right away, and there was quite a bit of wind," Coach Troy Purcell said. "They took the ball and we took the wind and proceeded to get a lot of points on the board early."
The Blue Ponies' first two scores came on runs by sophomore speedster Steve Heberly. Heberly, who captured the state Class A 100-meter title last spring when teammate Brent Finneman went down with an injury, proved that he's a football player, too, with scampers of 18 and five yards. Heberly, who usually plays wideout, followed each touchdown with a two-point conversion run.
"We decided to use him a little in the backfield this game," Purcell said. "He's got great speed; he's just a little light. He only weighs about 130 pounds."
Purcell said his other speedster, the senior Finneman, is still recovering from injury.
"Finneman got dinged about three weeks ago," Purcell said. "He's going to down and get evaluated today.
"We have Kevin Harada, Levi Briese and Jacob Szudera. They're all solid, hard running fullback types, but none of them have that 4.6 speed. We're only going to use Stevie on certain situations."
Quarterback Dan Wirtzberger tallied the next Pony points with a four-yard run. The two-point conversion was picked up on the ground by power back Harada. Joe Roman pulled in a Wirtzberger pass for Havre's fourth score of the first quarter and Briese ran in the two-point conversion.
The lone scoring in the second quarter was supplied by Jake Szudera on a one-yard dive and a successful PAT by David Knight.
The third quarter was scoreless.
Browning's only score was the first tally of the fourth quarter and came on a one-yard run by Josh Blackweasel. Dusty Racine provided the two-point conversion on the ground.
Havre's two fourth-quarter scores came from short runs by Briese, the first from one yard out and the second on a six-yard burst. The runs for two points following each of the scores failed.
Purcell, whose Ponies met the Bulldogs in the first game of the season, also in Whitefish, said he thinks Saturday's game will shape up as a defensive struggle.
"The first game was tough. It was 7-7 there, and we ended up losing in overtime," Purcell said. "But I felt we could have won that game very easily. They have not scored a lot of points on a lot of opponents."
He noted that both teams have solid defensive units.
"I think it's going to be a low scoring game."