Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pack brings in Hellgate; Flathead finishes at Big Sky

Daily Inter Lake | October 20, 2021 10:22 PM

It is a dangerous Missoula Hellgate football team that visits Legends Stadium tonight.

Just ask the Butte Bulldogs, who needed to rally for a 30-27 win over the 2-5 Knights. Or ask Glacier coach Grady Bennett, whose club needed seven Jake Rendina touchdowns a year ago to subdue Hellgate 54-38.

“They have the fewest kids in the state (for AA),” Bennett said. “When you watch them on film the sideline is pretty bare. But the guys they do have are as talented as anybody.

“They have guys that will play in college, guys that are getting recruited. Their top six or seven guys compare with anyone’s.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Leo Filardi, who had 341 receiving yards against Glacier a year ago, returns at one receiver for Hellgate; Ian Finch (13 touchdowns this season) is back at the other. The Knights’ Connor Dick is an upgrade at quarterback, and has put up the best statistics this side of Polson’s Jarrett Wilson.

“The good news for us is we got the ship righted last week,” said Bennett, whose club beat crosstown rival Flathead 56-0 Friday. “We knew we need to continue that and play well tomorrow night, or else we’ll be in trouble.”

Bennett was unsure of the status of top receiver Jake Turner, who banged up a shoulder against Flathead.

“Game time decision,” Bennett said. “He wants to go, of course.”

Tate Kauffman, Luke Bilau and Connor Sullivan remain as targets for quarterback Gage Sliter, of course. And Rendina continues to lead the Western AA in rushing yards and touchdowns.

Flathead at

Missoula Big Sky

The Braves and Eagles also kick off tonight at 7, at MCPS Stadium.

“Back to the old stomping grounds,” said Flathead coach Alex Cummings, a Big Sky graduate. “(Head coach) Matt Johnson was my defensive coordinator, and Dan Nile was the OC. It’s fun to go back for me because they’re guys I grew up with.”

The Eagles (2-6) beat Billings Skyview and Hellgate this season, and have solid skill kids in quarterback Caleb Hren, running back Cole Sandberg and receivers Tre Reed and Louis Sanders.

“I see a typical Big Sky team,” Cummings said. “A lot of kids that play really hard. They’ve had their own struggles, but they’ve played some good football this year.”

Flathead (0-8) will be without quarterback Jackson Walker, who suffered a knee injury against Glacier. Cummings has tabbed another junior, Nate Skonord, to start. Kaden Henshaw and Joe Jones remain the main running threats; Brody Thornsberry and Caleb Reily are the leading receivers.

“We’ve talked about it all year,” Cummings said. “Right now we have a lot of kids out with injuries, which is something you can’t control. But on the other side of things, we have a lot of young kids getting great game reps.

“I’m really excited for this game. It’s another opportunity to judge where we are.”

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