Playing the final game of the regular season, the Havre High football team still had several areas of concern to check off of its list before rolling into the postseason.
A win was also on the want list, and the No. 2 Central A Ponies accomplished that with a 32-6 romping over the conference rival Browning Indians Friday night in Browning. The Ponies improved to 3-1 in the conference and 4-4 overall, while the Indians finished winless in league play.
Teams have been plenty successful against the Indians this season, and the Ponies needed to add to that list of teams. Trying to settle in with a first-round playoff game next week, the Ponies first and foremost, wanted to continue to grow and get better.
"For the most part this is how we needed to play," Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. "On defense we held them on a couple of fourth down, and that was good to see. And on offense Thomas Gruber and Nate Rismon had big days as receivers, while Dane Warp completed a lot of passes, and I thought that was nice to see. Those were some really good things we saw, but we also need to correct our penalties and turnovers. We just have to get those corrected going into the playoffs."
On the night, the Ponies still had 17 penalties and turned the ball over six times to a hungry Indians' defense.
But despite the hiccups, the offense did still produce with five scoring drives.
Nate Rismon got things going by scoring on a 30-yard pass from Warp in the first quarter, followed by a 44-yard scoring reception from Warp in the second. Gruber also scored on a 40-yard pass from Warp late in the second quarter to put the Ponies up 19-0 at the break.
The scoring continued after a slow third quarter, as Gruber and Parker Filius found their way into the end zone to expand the HHS lead. Gruber reeled in a 14-yard TD catch, and Filius had the only rushing score, punching it in on a short yardage carry.
Warp finished with 24 completed passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Rismon led the receiving core with five catches for 127 yards, while Gruber followed with six catches for 114 yards. Tristan Manuel led the rushing attack with six carries for 60 yards, while Filius finished with 31 yards on four carries.
Defensively the Ponies played fairly well all they way through. Gruber and Jake Williams each had an interception, while Filius and Jace Billy each recovered a fumble. Tyrell pierce also had a sack. The also held the Browning offense to just one score, a TD pass late in the third quarter. Browning was also held to just 182-yards passing and 78-yards rushing.
"Browning has a lot of very good athletes," Christenson said. "They are much improved, so it was nice to see our kids rise to the occasion. WE had a shutout going for the majority of the game, but gave up a passing touchdown late. The coverage was good, but the receiver really jumped up and made a play. But we performed well overall and that was good to see out of our defense."
Havre locked up the No. 2 seed in the Central A and will get a home playoff game on Saturday, when the Ponies host Miles City at Blue Pony Stadium.
Blue Ponies 32, Browning 6
HHS – Nate Rismon 30 pass from Dane Warp
HHS – Nate Rismon 44 pass from Dane Warp
HHS – Thomas Gruber 40 pass from Dane Warp
HHS – Thomas Gruber 14 pass from Dane Warp
HHS - Parker Filius rush
Havre Individual Statistics
Passing – Dane Warp 24-36-339
Receiving – Parker Filius 7-63, Thomas Gruber 6-114, Nate Rismon 5-127, Tristan Manuel 5-36.
Rushing – Kody Pribyl 3-20, Parker Filius 4-31, Tristan Manuel 6-60.