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Columbia Falls Wildcats get a rematch for state football title

Daily Inter Lake | November 17, 2023 6:12 AM

The Dillon Beavers’ 10-0 mark this season includes a 22-19 win over the Columbia Falls Wildcats, which may or not mean much Saturday.

When the teams battle for the State A championship in Dillon (kickoff at 1 p.m.), they’ll know they’re evenly matched. They also know that the first battle was 10 weeks ago.

“The two teams are quite a bit different at this point,” Columbia Falls coach Jaxon Schweikert said. “Whether it’s injuries, or playing different players. We’ve worked our way into what we’re really good at, and got rid of stuff we weren’t. And same with them, right? They’ve changed things up.”

The quarterbacks remain key. Dillon’s Kee Christiansen scored the go-ahead touchdown in September, and is a dual threat who has thrown for 22 touchdowns — though he had just 49 passing yards the first time around.

The Beavers also have a thousand-yard rusher in Kale Konen.

“What’s really big is not letting either one of those guys have any momentum coming downhill at us,” Schweikert said. “We’ve got to keep them going sideways, going lateral, and use our speed.

“They’re both very fast.”

The Wildcats have speed as well, which has helped quarterback Cody Schweikert throw for 2,484 yards and 22 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. Partly due to the absence of running back Reggie Sapa, who was injured in Columbia Falls’ fourth game, Schweikert has also run for 653 yards and 19 scores.

“In the first game it was mostly self-inflicted damage,” Jaxon Schweikert recalled. “We snapped it over the punter’s head, and that led to touchdown. They scooped and scored a fumble that was essentially an incomplete pass.

“Defensively we were pretty good against them, but they’re better offensively now. Better at what they do.”

Dillon switches defenses, playing three in all, and is chasing its ninth state crown. The Beavers last won it all in 2016; it came 34-17 over Columbia Falls. The next season the Wildcats won the program’s lone state championship, over Hamilton.

The elder Schweikert celebrates the programs’ high-knowledge, high-effort athletes and feels the game could be a four-quarter affair again. Health could be an issue. Playing clean football definitely will be.

“If we’re not making turnovers, dropping passes, making silly mistakes,” he began, “we’ll have a chance to be very effective in this game.”

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