Everything the Havre High football team has been able to accomplish this season is on the line. The first round of the playoffs are finally kicking off this weekend, and the Blue Ponies are right in the thick of things, but with a very tough opponent.
Now in the postseaso
n, the Central A Blue Ponies are gearing up to play on Saturday afternoon in Laurel. The Ponies (4-5) are the No. 3 seed out of the Central A, and will face the No. 2 Locomotives (8-1) out of the East at 1 p.m in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
Laurel, coached by Mike Ludwig, has been impressive this season. And after being knocked out of the quarterfinals last season, the Locomotives should be hungry for another run at a state championship.
The only loss for the Locomotives this season came at the hands of Billings Central, the No. 1 team out of the East. The Rams defeated the Locomotives 41-7, but besides the one blemish, the Locomotives were able to take down teams like Belgrade 35-7, Butte Central 51-37, and Miles City 34-12.
And a lot of the success comes from the arm and legs of quarterback Brett Thompson. Thompson has the skills to throw the ball down field to targets like Jon Vaerlanic, Jed Craig and Jake Anderson, but he also uses his legs to break off big runs agasint the opposing defense. And if that isn’t hard enough to handle, the Locomotives also have a very dominating running game, led by Bryce Herman and Kameron Fisher. In the final game of the season, the Locomotives racked up 300 rushing yards, but also had nine different individuals carry the ball in the blowout win over Sidney.
HHS hasn’t had the best luck stopping the run this season, and that could prove to be crucial against Laurel.
The Ponies have stressed the fact that they need to stop the run all season, but in many cases have failed to do so. Last weekend in Livingston, the Rangers racked up over 600 rushing yards in a win over the Ponies. Even with standout defenders like Jake Williams, Chet Shrauger, Tyler Adams, and Thurman Holdsclaw, the entire defense as a whole has to come together.
Zach Plum has been a huge bright spot for the Ponies, snagging nine interceptions this season, but if HHS can’t force the Locomotives to something other than run, Plum may not get a chance to make his mark defensively.
But as far as the Blue Pony offense goes, Plum could still be primed to have a huge day.
This season the Ponies have lived off of the passing game. Freshman quarterback Dane Warp is now a seasoned veteran, and receivers like Plum, Holdsclaw and Thomas Gruber have benefited greatly. They should look to continue their success through the air, while the running game also looks to establish a presence. Holdsclaw will see his share of carries, but the majority of the running game should be handled by Jordan Schroeder, still a relatively new running back after taking over due to an injury to Tristan Manual.
It is going to be a tough matchup for the Ponies on Saturday, and it is going to take their best outing of the season to get past the Locomotives. The defense has to stop the run and limit the pass, but the Ponies are on the opposite end of the spectrum themselves. The Ponies have to continue to pass the ball at a high level, but they also have to achieve success on the ground. And as far as Warp goes, he has to be protected if he hopes to continue tossing the ball downfield to his speedy receivers.
Saturday the Ponies will be in Laruel to take on the Locomotives in the first round of the Class A playoffs. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday's meeting is the second in three years between the Ponies and Locomotives. Laurel beat the Ponies in the 2010 playoffs in Laurel.
Class A Playoffs
Havre at Laurel
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Radio: 610 A.M. KOJM
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