Four teams head to football playoffs

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

DGS quarterbacks Parker Donaldson (left) and Kordell Carpenter are only able to watch from the sidelines during the Bearcats win over Tri-City on Saturday in Stanford. Both quarterbacks were injured during the season. DGS Coach has moved running back Rhet Woodhall to the quarterback position for the last several games.
Photo by Doreen Heintz

Fergus, Denton-Geyser-Stanford, Grass Range-Winnett and Roy-Winifred, are in the first round of the football playoffs that begin this weekend.
Fergus, who finished second in the Central A Division with a 3-1 conference mark and 6-2 overall record, will host Laurel Friday night at Golden Eagle Stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.
Adults and students are reminded that Fergus activity tickets are not honored for post-season play. The Montana High School Association sets the prices for all football playoff games.
Fergus defeated Browning, 26-0, in the final game of the season last Friday night. Although a win over the Indians had an effect on the conference standings, the win gave the Golden Eagles a three-game win streak heading into the playoffs. The win over Havre the week before was the important contest that vaulted the Golden Eagles into the playoffs.
The Golden Eagles have diversified their offense as the season rolled on this fall. Early Fergus depended on its running game, but have used more pass receptions over the past few weeks.
According to the stats on Max Prep (does not include Browning game), the team has averaged 151.3 yards on the ground over the eight games the Golden Eagles played, while the passing attack stood at 195.7 yards per game.
Sophomore quarterback Mitch Norslien has completed 66 of his 112 passes thrown this year, averaging 14.8 yards per pass. Norslien has 12 TD passes.
Senior Isaac Fry is the leading rusher for the Eagles, carrying the ball 110 times for 743 yards (6.8 yards/carry). He has averaged 106.1 yards per game. Sophomore Wes Jameson has carried the ball 38 times for 274 yards (7.2 yards/carry). Norslien has added 62 carries for 249 yards (4.0 yards/carry).
Senior Eric Knox is the leading receiver for the Eagles, having caught 16 balls for 287 yards throughout the season. He is averaging 39.1 yards/game. Sophomore Tanner Trafton is second in catches with 12 for 154 yards and 22.0 yards/game. Fry has 11 catches for 109 yards (15.6 yards/game), and Jameson has nine catches for 119 yards (17.0 yards/game).
The defense for the Golden Eagles has been stellar throughout the season. The defensive effort has truly been a team effort. Jameson leads the team in tackles with 52, not counting the Browning contest. The second leading tackler on the team is junior Matthew Welsh with 46 tackles, followed closely by junior Wyatt Blythe with 44 tackles. Other tacklers for the Eagles include Thomas Ayers 41, Bridger Grover 39, Sam Butcher 38, and Cole Ayers and Nick Sweeney, 34 tackles each.

Grass Range-Winnett hosts Bainville
The Rangers of Grass Range-Winnett will host a playoff game for the first time ever according to Ranger Coach T.J. Smith.
“It is the best finish, for at least a Grass Range football team, since 1966,” said Smith. “Hosting a playoff game is really good for the football program and should give us an advantage as we do not have to travel.”
The Rangers earned their playoff berth with a 31-14 win over Reed Point-Rapelje.
“We made a lot of mistakes against Reed Point-Rapelje,” said Smith. “They are the kind of mistakes we can make at the beginning of the season, but not at the end. We haven’t been playing really good football for the past three weeks. If we want to gain a win on Saturday, the kids are going to have to show up and execute our game plan.”
According to Smith, the Rangers played very poorly in the first half.
“At halftime, we led only 6-0,” he added. “Zane Stahl set the tone for the second half, by running back the second half kick-off.”
Smith sees Reed Point-Rapelje as one of the top teams in six-man football next year. “They only had one senior on the roster, who did not play. The rest of the team were juniors.”
Bainville is in its first year of six-man football after co-oping with Culbertson for the last few years.
“They are not very big, but are fairly fast,” Smith said. “They only play six players, using the same kids on offense and defense. I hope we can wear them down eventually. Our defensive ends are going to have to contain well in order to stop them. They kind of run a strange-looking option play. Also, they will occasionally throw the deep ball.
One player Smith has missed all year is junior Cameron Wollman, who was not able to play at all this season due to an infection in his leg.
“Cameron was our leader on the offensive line,” said Smith. “We will be much better next year with him.”
Smith has some quality seniors, including Dawson Delaney and Jordan Huff. Wollman is the only junior on the Ranger squad this year. The real strength of the Rangers is the sophomore class. Sophomore Caden McCarthy is the quarterback, and also is a defensive end. Stahl has come on during the season as a running back and safety. Sophomores Chris Campbell, Ryan Drollinger and Grant Finkbeiner play on the offensive line for Smith. Freshman Jacob Jessen has seen some valuable playing time throughout the season as a wide receiver on offense and safety on defense.

DGS returns to playoffs as eight-man team
Although the Bearcats of Denton-Geyser-Stanford will not have the opportunity to defend their six-man football championship they won last year, they are in the playoffs again – only this time in eight-man football.
Under new Coach Matt Neumann, the Bearcats host Circle in the first round of the eight-man playoffs on Saturday at 1: p.m. in Denton.
“Circle is a pretty good team, losing only to Wibaux and Fairview from the East,” said Neumann. “They have good athletes with an exceptional quarterback. We have our work cut out for us in order to win.”
Last Saturday, the Bearcats came up against a fired-up Tri-City (Hobson, Moore, Judith Gap) team in Stanford. Neither team was able to move the ball in the first half, resulting in a 0-0 score at halftime. DGS finally got on the scoreboard with 9:18 left in the third quarter when the Bearcats blocked a Titan punt into the end zone for a safety. With 1:10 left in the third quarter, Clay Hill carried the ball across the goal line from three yards out for the first touchdown of the contest. DGS won the game by a score of 22-0.
The Bearcats are playing their third quarterback of the season. Junior quarterback Kordell Carpenter went down with a broken ankle very early in the season. Freshman Parker Donaldson took over the reins as QB, but suffered an ankle injury in the Bearcats’ win over Absarokee. Coach Neumann moved running back Rhet Woodhall to the quarterback position.
In Saturday’s win over the Titans, only 14 Bearcats were suited up for the contest. Four Bearcats, including Carpenter and Donaldson, were on the sidelines but not able to play.
The Bearcats have a very stingy defense. Senior Cameron Cali is one of the leaders on the defense. He plays as a linebacker on defense and tight end on offense. Senior Sean Bronec is another important lineman for the Bearcats. He is the center on offense and a defensive end. Other seniors include Austin Hartman, Tyrell Morris and Lane Hathaway. Junior contributors include Woodhall, Carson Norskog, Keaton Protsman, Clay Hill, Halen Peterson, Riley Donaldson and Tyson Wilhelms. Wilhelms is currently sidelinew with a separated shoulder. Although only weighing 149 pounds, sophomore Jake Solomon is a valuable part of both the offensive and defensive lines for the Bearcats. Sophomore Kyle Lee is the kicker for DGS.
DGS’s only loss this season came at the hands of the Mustangs of Ennis.

Rangers win helps Outlaws make the playoffs
The Rangers’ win over Reed Point-Rapelje allowed Roy-Winifred to make the playoffs as the third seed out of the Southern Division.  Reed Point-Rapelje, Roy-Winifred and Custer-Hysham all ended the season with identical 3-3 conference records. Roy-Winifred earned the third seed and Custer-Hysham the four seed using the six-man tie-breaking point system.
The Outlaws travel east for a Saturday contest against Richey-Lambert. The game will be played at 1 p.m. in Richey.
Just like many of the other teams in Central Montana, the Outlaws suffered injuries throughout the season. When senior Braden Urion is healthy, Outlaw Coach Nick Econom relies on Urion to power the running game. Foreign exchange student Marcus Aicardi is also a running back for the Outlaws. The quarterback position was handled most of the season by freshman Tyler Fordyce. Besides Urion, other seniors on the Outlaw squad include Cooper Strouf, Rowan Rice and Raymond Levick. Cody Bergum is the only junior on the team this year. Sophomore Ryan Russell has also seen time as a running back.
The winners of the first-round playoff games will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played next Saturday, Nov. 3. State championship contests for all classifications are Saturday, Nov. 19, although games can also be played on Friday nights.
 

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