By Alan Sorensen
The Havre High School Blue Pony football team, in the midst of its second season, hosts the Dillon Beavers in a Class A quarterfinal match up Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Blue Pony Stadium.
The Ponies made it to the quarterfinals by virtue of their come-from-behind road win over the Bulldogs at Whitefish last Saturday. The Ponies, who trailed 10 to 3 at half time, 17 to 3 early in the third quarter and 24 to 10 early in the fourth, won 38 to 31 in a Montana Playoff overtime.
"Last week was just huge win to the program," Head Coach Troy Purcell said in a telephone interview this morning. "It showed the confidence and courage of the kids, the never-say-die attitude."
The Blue and White appear fairly healthy entering this week's game, with the exception of one of their defensive leaders.
"We did lose Brandon Crawford, he was our starting safety," Purcell said. "Finnie (senior back Brent Finneman) has been plagued with injuries all year, but he'll start in that role as free safety."
Purcell said he anticipates a hard-nosed ball game Saturday and a lot of hard hitting.
"They're a big strong physical ball club, they're 8 (wins) and 0 (losses) for a reason," Purcell said. "Offensively, they run some pro, some slot, some double-tight and doubles. Those are their four main formations on offense."
Havre's defenders will have their hands full trying to read the plays, key on the quarterback and two running backs, and stop Dillon's ground game. They'll also have to contend with Dillon's front line that will use a variety of blocking schemes, Purcell said.
"They like to run option football, counterdives, cross blocks," Purcell said. "They run split backs all the time."
When they do throw the ball, Purcell said, the Beavers are pretty predictable.
"They throw to their double side, to their slot side, every time they throw the ball," he said. "Their quarterback, Tyler Thompson, is the coach's kid, he's 6 foot and 190 (pounds), and he's the man we need to contain."
The Blue Pony offense will be facing a defense that's designed to stack up and stop the run, Purcell said.
"Offensively, we're going with our same plan," he said. "We looked at the film and there's really no weakness anywhere. We're going to use our formations to create mismatches.
"Defensively, they run a 52, 43 and 44 stack, and they like to stunt the linebackers," he said.
Should any of Havre's backs crack through the line and get behind the linebackers, Purcell said, they may end up with large gains because Dillon's defensive backs have to play the pass.
"If we pick them up well, and we've been doing it all week in practice, it will be some big plays. They don't have a lot of good pursuit angles sometimes. If the back gets into the secondary, it will be a nice gain."
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. The gates to Blue Pony Stadium will open at 11:45 a.m. No advance tickets were sold for the game and the cost per person at the gate is $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for students. There will be a $3 charge for parking. Regular season passes will not gain admission.