HHS faces a homecoming test from Eagles
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Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]
For most teams across the state, this is just week five. But for the Havre High Blue Pony football team, this weekend's matchup represents a lot more. Tonight, the Central A Blue Ponies (2-1) host the Lewistown Golden Eagles (2-1) as their homecoming opponent and conference rival. It's the Ponies' first conference game of the season, and kickoff is set for 7 at Blue Pony stadium. “This is as big as it can get,” Havre High head coach Kevin Sukut said. “Your first conference game is always big irregardless, but then you throw homecoming in on top of it and then especially with the matchup being against Lewistown, our big rival, it's a big game.” The Ponies have a lot to look forward to. Yes, the Eagles are a conference rival and their homecoming competition, but the Ponies are looking at the big picture. It has been a good week of practice, and they are looking to start conference play on the right foot with a win. ”It should not take the players much to get excited,” Sukut said. “We would like to get out of the chute with a conference win, and that's exciting in its self. That's the way football should be.” Normally teams consider an opponent that is undoubtedly weaker for their homecoming competitor. But when the Eagles roll into town, the fans can expect a good matchup and a true test for the Ponies. The Eagles are similar to the Sidney team which upset the Ponies at home just a week ago. They like to establish their running game early, but also strive for a solid mixture of pass plays as well. The Eagles also tend to lean towards play action when they are in passing situations, and aren't afraid to take the big shots down field. Quarterback, Chance Corry will also present himself as a threat to the Ponies. He is one of the better Eagle athletes, and has the ability to make big plays with his legs, or with his arm. “We respect Lewistown,” Sukut said. “And we know that they are going to come in here ready to play. We are going to have to be able to step it up and get after it in all facets of the game to get it done.” Defensively HHS has its hands full. The defensive line needs take control of the game and stop the Eagles' running threat before it ever gets started. That has been a big focus in this week's practices, and Sukut can't emphasize enough how important it is that the defense neutralizes the line of scrimmage. Applying pressure to the Corry will also be on the Ponies list of things to do tonight. Corry and the Eagles have executed the screen pass very will this year, and the defense has to watch for that. They need to find a happy medium, where they pressure Corry in the pocket, but also make sure the screen pass doesn't slip by the blitzing pressure. “We have to be controlled with the pressure we give,” Sukut said. “If we get overly aggressive, then they are going to slip in the screen. We have to pick and choose, but first and foremost, our defensive line has to step up and handle things. All of those things have to meld together.” Offensively, the Ponies are attempting to execute a similar style to the one they will be trying to stop. The Ponies need to stick to their strengths. It will be crucial to establish the running game early, but they will also need to find a way to execute in the air. The Eagles like to run a lot of run blitz packages, so if they are successful in shutting down the Ponies run game, their passing game will have to carry them. But whether it's on the ground or through the air, Sukut isn't looking for just one individual to step up. Kent Pattison, John Perrodin and Casey Schaub have been outstanding running the ball at times this season. And while good performances from them will make a considerable difference, so will good performances from Layne Waid, Logan Connor, Jake Myers and quarterback C.J. Evans through the air. “Last week we struggled in pretty much every facet of the game,” Sukut said. “We just need everybody to step up. I wouldn't single out one group, but our offensive and defensive lines we obviously expect a lot from. We need our running backs, our receivers and we need C.J. (Evans) to step up and have good games. We just need a good team effort.” Starting conference play with a win would be huge for the Ponies. It would give them a little more breathing room, as well as give them some momentum heading into the remainder of the conference schedule. And to ensure a win this time around, the Ponies are looking to avoid the mistakes they made a weekend ago. They aren't going to come out and focus on setting tempo just for the sake of setting tempo. The Ponies aren't looking to do anything but execute, and execute properly. “Our focus has been on doing what we do well,” Sukut said. “And that's what we expect our kids to do, come out and execute the game plan that we put in. I have confidence in our kids, and our football program. It's not overconfidence, we got a wake up call last weekend and if we don't play good football that's the kind of thing that can happen. We go into every week expecting to be successful, that's the expectation we have here with Pony football.” Tonight's homecoming game between Havre High and Lewistown gets underway at 7 at Blue Pony Stadium. The game can be heard locally on 610 KOJM AM. Tonight is not only homecoming at HHS, but it also marks the 80th anniversary of football being played at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre.