Ponies look to ground Eagles tonight
In the first three games of the season, the Havre High football team was able to record a 2-1 nonconference record.
And now, heading into the conference portion of the schedule, and with a lot on the line, the Blue Ponies feel they are prepared to compete.
Tonight the Central A Ponies will face their first conference opponent of the year when they take to the road to take on the Lewistown Golden Eagles.
"There is a little more excitement and energy now," Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. "The games we're playing actually mean something. Our goal has always been to win the conference and make the playoffs, so now we're setting off into the second part of our season and the kids are really excited about that."
And though the Ponies are facing an 0-3 Eagles squad, facing the Eagles on the road and in their homecoming game is going to make bringing home a victory a much more difficult objective.
But the Ponies' three previous games against Whitefish, Miles City and Sidney should have left them well prepared for conference play.
HHS has already been able to successfully run and pass the ball this season. And with the defense also forcing several turnovers to this point, the varsity roster spots have all been solidified with more than capable athletes.
"We got a pretty good feel with what we are going to run and how the kids are executing on both offense and defense," Christenson said.
Now headed into conference play, and more specifically Lewistown, the Ponies should have a solid game plan in place.
The Blue Pony offense first and foremost is looking to run the ball more. This will take advantage of Casey Schaub's athleticism as well as help the Ponies work towards better clock management. And if Schaub is able to run to the level he is capable of, the Ponies will also use that to set up a passing game.
"He (Schaub) has a very good mix of strength and speed and he really showcased it against Sidney," Christenson said. "He runs the ball really well and runs hard, and we (coaching staff) sat down and said we have to get him the ball more, we need to put the ball in his hands and let him make something happen.
"I think we are going to set up the passing game with the run and go from there," Christenson added.
If the Ponies can set up the passing game as well, they will have two very large offensive threats. Quarterback Justin Jensen has proved that if he can remain protected in the pocket he can be very accurate and dangerous. And connecting with several receivers for long yardage touchdowns already, that's a threat the Ponies would lie to see some alive.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Ponies will key on three specific Eagles.
Quarterback Chance Corry, running back Shayne Durbin and wide receiver Bo Descheemaeker are three very dangerous seniors for the Eagles. Durbin will handle the majority of the running duties for Lewistown, and will be the back when they line up in their one-back sets. And Corry has a decent arm and quick feet, while Descheemaeker appears to be the No. 1 target, a very fast and talented receiver.
"Those are three kids that we are really concerned about," Christenson said. "The offense is pretty refined and they mix the run and pass equally. We just need to play hard, play fast and just execute what they know how to do. If we can do that we should be ok."
Turnovers have also been a huge part of the Pony defense this season, and if Havre can execute, they will be again tonight. A week ago the Pony defense forced five Sidney turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles. And with Logan Connor getting all three picks last week he leads the team with four from the cornerback position. Brandon Brostrom also has a pick this year, and along side those two, the entire Pony defense will be looking to force a turnover in what looks to be a pretty evenly matched game.
"We're going to try and put (the defense) in situations where they can do that (force turnovers)," Christenson said. "They are understanding the defense a lot better and where they need to be in relation to the receivers and in their zones and man coverages. I think Logan (Connor's) success last weekend was a reflection of that."
And turnovers will be key.
Christenson thinks his Ponies and the Eagles are very evenly matched, and in a close game, turnovers could make all the difference.
"It's a game that's going to come down to executing on offense and defense and taking care of the ball," Christenson said. "I think it will come down to a turnover battle and if we can win that I think we can beat these guys."
Tonight the Blue Ponies (2-1) take on the Golden Eagles (0-3) in Lewistown for what will be the Ponies' opening game of the conference season.