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Blue/White Day showcases Pony squads

It wasn’t the start of the regular season, but both the Havre High football and volleyball teams saw competition Saturday.

Saturday, the Blue Ponies took another step toward the start of the fall sports seasons. The Havre High gymnasium housed the annual Blue/White volleyball scrimmage, while Blue Pony Stadium was home to the annual Blue/White football scrimmage.

In football action, the Ponies saw mixed results.

At times the offense and defense looked strong, but at times, both sides of the ball also saw areas of concern.

“I saw some good things on the defensive side of the ball.” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “On the offensive line, we still have a long ways to go. But we will get that tuned up and ready to go by Whitefish. But I was just looking for the kids to get a chance to compete, get off the ball, and just execute their assignments. I thought they did that, but we were hesitant. We just have to get everybody confident and moving fast.”

The No. 1 offense was on the field for five offensive drives, and scored touchdowns on four of those drives. Second team defensive back Alec Drew put a stop to one of those drives by picking off quarterback Dane Warp at the 50-yard line. But picking up scores was veteran wide receiver Thomas Gruber on a two-yard catch on the first drive, and on a 28-yard catch on the fifth drive. Jordan Schroeder also scored on a 10-yard carry, while Kody Pribyl scored on a 27-yard run.

Pribyl had the biggest impact in the ground game, while it is clear that Gruber is going to be Warp’s favorite target this season. Pribyl is competing with Jace Billy, Tristan Manuel and Schroeder for the starting running back spot, while Gruber will be accented by Ned Malone and Nate Rismon.

Warp also had a late touchdown pass with the scout team offense, a connection with Drew from 11 yards out. Warp came in after backup quarterback Jase Kato left with an injury.

“It is kind of odd talking about depth because we haven’t had it for so long,” Christenson said about the running backs and receivers. “It is nice though, because it builds competitive nature and builds confidence. But we will watch film and see who competed and performed the best, and get those kids in the positions they need to be, and get down to Whitefish and see what we can do.”

The defense was also highlighted by the play of Travis Adams at defensive end. Adams grabbed three sacks against the scout team offense, while Jake Williams had one sack. Schroeder had an interception, while the No. 1 defense forced another turnover on downs.

Overall, the outing was competitive and beneficial for the Ponies. They did some nice things, but also got a better look at what areas need tweaking before Saturday’s game against Whitefish.

The Blue/White scrimmage did the same for the Blue Pony volleyball team. The Ponies will open the season Saturday against the Browning Indians in Browning, and HHS got a good look at itself.

“The scrimmage was nothing like we have done in practice,” HHS head volleyball coach Melanie Skoyen said. “So that is why we do this scrimmage. It is to get everything out of the way, playing in uniform, playing with refs, and playing in front of the fans. It is good to get all of that out of the way, and there should be no excuses next time. But the scrimmage went OK, but we are so much better than we showed.”

The junior varsity gave the varsity a run for their money in two games. The varsity did win both games by scores of 25-23 and 25-21, but they didn’t come easy, as hitting errors and miscommunication kept the match tight at times. The junior varsity did play well, credit them, but the varsity squad did not look sharp at times either.

There were some bright spots, though.

Dani Wagner looked very good as the new setter, while Lacey Waid and Wagner both showed off impressive serves. Waid had two aces and Wagner had one in the two games. But the Ponies also proved they have some girls that hit with some velocity. Jacinta Finneman had three kills, while Aubrea Worm recorded four. Both Waid and Marth Stocker looked especially impressive, as Waid finished with four kills, and Stocker finished with four.

“Lacey is going to do a great job hitting from the outside for us,” Skoyen said. “And Martha is such a powerful hitter too. We still just need a lot of repetition. We have a lot of new people in different areas, and we really only have two true returners in Lacey and Martha. Everybody else played some varsity, but were more junior varsity players a year ago. I think we have experience playing together, and we just need that experience at the varsity level. But their attitudes are great and so is there work ethic, so it is not going to take long.”

The Pony football team opens the Class A season this Saturday at Whitefish. The HHS volleyball team begins Central A play at Browning Saturday.

 

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