The Havre High golf team officially got the much anticipated fall sports season underway earlier this week. And now it's time for the football and volleyball teams to follow suit on Saturday when each team takes part in its annual Blue-White scrimmage.
The Blue Pony football team, which enters the 2014 season with high hopes after making the postseason in 2013, will be led by All-State quarterback Dane Warp and will be looking to take back the Central A Crown in 2014.
With practice starting on Aug. 15, the Ponies are still in their infancy as a football team but head coach Jason Christenson, who enters his fifth season at the helm, feels good about the progress his team has made thus far.
"I think the kids are progressing well," Christenson said. "Obviously it's a bit of shock to them because we hired four new coaches and there is an adjustment that way. But I think our attitude and maturity is better with some more experience and I think they know what they are capable of doing. So even though it is still early, I think the kids are doing great."
Christenson, who cut his teeth as a football coach on the defensive side of the ball, will take on a new role this season as he takes over the offensive play calling duties for former offensive coordinator Danny Wirtzberger, who left to become the athletic director at Laurel High School.
"It's been different because they are used to having me bark at them on defense, so I am trying to earn their trust and I am working very hard to do that. I am nervous to call plays on offense which is something I have never done before but at the same time I am really excited. I have been around enough great coaches and coordinators that I know how to manage and call a game."
Fans will get to see Christenson call plays for the first time Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium, when the Ponies take to the field in their annual scrimmage before opening the season Aug. 30 against Whitefish.
There will be live hitting in the game but it will be a controlled scrimmage and will include no kickoffs. For the most part, it will be the first-team against the second-team but with some starting positions still to be determined some players will see time in Blue and White uniforms.
"We want to get the kids some certain series. We will have the no.1 offense go against the no.2 defense and the no.2 offense against the no.1 defense," he said. "That will give us a better look at how they have absorbed everything through these two-a-day practices and who is executing the best."
While the football scrimmage will be the nightcap of Blue-White day, the HHS volleyball team will take center stage in the afternoon with its scrimmage at the Havre Middle School Gymnasium.
The Ponies fell just short of the state tournament in 2013 after finishing third at the Central A Divisionals and are determined to get back to the Class A state tournament for the first time under head coach Melanie Skoyen.
Havre features a number of key returning players such as setter Dani Wagner, right side/setter Naomi Terry, defensive specialist Jordyn Warren and Reggie Bernard, who plays in the middle. The team may be young with just four seniors but is far from devoid of talent.
"So far everything has been going great," Skoyen said. "We had 48 girls out for volleyball, which is the most I have had since I have been the coach. We don't have a lot of returning players from last season but we have some talented girls. So far they are coming along really well. There are still some things that we need to fine tune but I like what I am seeing and feel confident that these girls can do some great things this season."
The volleyball scrimmage will also feature the No.1's vs the No.2's in what will either be one or two games to 25 points.
"Right now I just want to see how comfortable they are," Skoyen said. "I want to see if the setters and hitters are comfortable running quicks off of free balls, which is something we haven't done until later in the season in the past, but I think these girls have the maturity and experience to do it now and I want to see them execute in game situations."
Blue-White day starts with volleyball at the Havre Middle School at 2 p.m. followed by the football scrimmage at Blue Pony Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.