Ponies welcome in rival Eagles tonight
Both the Havre High Blue Ponies and Lewistown Golden Eagles football teams are considered favorites to capture the Central A conference football title this season.
And putting their seasons on the line, a lot of questions will be answered this weekend after the two squads face off.
Tonight the Ponies (2-3, 1-0) will host the Eagles (2-2, 0-0) at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre. Kickoff is set for 7 for HHS's hom
Havre running back Casey Schaub (left) tries to avoid a Miles City tackler during a Class A football game earlier this month in Havre. Tonight, the Blue Ponies return home for a Central A Homecoming showdown with Lewistown.
Havre comes into tonight's game in first place in the Central A.
The Ponies are hoping to keep their momentum rolling forward after a 47-19 win over Belgrade last weekend. And while this is the first conference game of the season for the Eagles, both Havre and Lewistown are in the hunt for a conference title.
"Livingston is also playing good football right now," Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. "And you never know what is going to happen in football. But we are taking the mentality that this is a conference championship game, and we have to play like it is and play as hard we can.
"Lewistown is a very talented team," Christenson added. "And we know that they are very well coached and that they are going to come out and play hard. That is one thing that you can always guarantee, that Lewistown is going to play hard for four quarters. The mood is upbeat heading in after the win (over Belgrade), but the kids have been hard at work getting prepared for Lewistown."
The Eagles may have gotten off to a 2-2 start in non league play, with a couple of devastating losses, but they enter the Central A a very worthy opponent for the Ponies.
Quarterback Blake Phelps leads the offense, alongside runningbacks Dylan Stenseth and Ethan Blythe. At 6-1 and 218 pounds Stenseth brings power to the Eagle's running game, while standing at 5-8, 180 pounds, Blythe adds speed and the opportunity for a quick score.
And that is what the Ponies can expect, a one-two punch with Stenseth and Blythe on the ground. The Ponies expect that the Eagles will look to get their offense rolling with a heavy dose of run, and look to pass only if necessary. And if and when the Eagles turn to the air, Phelps will likely look to his running backs once again in the screen game, a part of their offense that has shown a lot of promise already this season.
That means defensive ends, Thurman Holdsclaw and Brandon Smith, and linebackers Casey Schaub, Eli Hinebauch and Kameron Pribyl can all expect to have a busy evening, playing the Ponies run stoppers and getting into the flats to prevent big chunks of yards with the screen pass.
"They have to have a huge game for us," Christenson said. "They really have to be disciplined and play their technique and do a great job of stepping up. We have to take away run situations, and when they do throw a screen, we have to recognize it fast, get out of our pass drops, get off a block and get to those running backs."
On offense, the Ponies will look to get back to their explosive production methods, and dictate their game, as well as the Eagles.
HHS wants to get off to a fast start, scoring points early and often. If they can do that, they will force the Eagles to change their game plan on offense, forcing them to play catch up and put the ball in the air.
"We need to keep clicking and take care of the football," Christenson said. "And if we can put some points on the board early and get Lewistown into a chase mode, that will help us out on both sides of the ball. We just have to play fast, up-tempo and disciplined and just take advantage of every possession we get and score some points."
The Ponies will look to quarterback Justin Jensen to help lead the way once again. Jesen is coming off of another outstanding weekend, where he passed for four more touchdowns and rushed for another. Schaub and Ryan Brandt will also look to give the Ponies an edge in the rushing game, while Brandt, Brayden Grimson and Thurman Holdsclaw have another shot at another big weekend on the receiving end of Jensen's arm.
But the Blue Pony offense will be challenged by the Eagle defense.
The Eagles are known for being active and attacking the opposing offense. They are aggressive and will most likely throw a lot of stunts and blitz packages at the HHS offense.
"It always seems like they are bringing linebackers from someplace" Christenson said. "They attack you, attack you and attack you, and just wait for you to make a mistake. That is just their style of play and what we expect to see."
It's homecoming weekend for the Ponies, and that means extra incentive to defeat the conference rival Eagles tonight at 7 p.m. at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre.