Butte Central took to Bob Green Field for the first time in 2019 on Saturday, practicing and scrimmaging as the Maroons look to finalize their preparations ahead of the home season opener against one of the preseason favorites for their Class A state title in Hamilton.
The Maroons focused primarily on positional drills during the well-attended practice, before switching to “live football” situations. However, the tight roster often meant that the starting offense or defense was primarily playing the second-team, which head coach Don Peoples said is good and bad.
“Early in the season, it’s always a challenge,” Peoples said. “I think our older kids are executing well, but it’s hard, we’re not trying to really get after the young kids. It’s hard to get a ‘1 vs. 1’ kind of scrimmage, we don’t have the numbers to do that, but I’m happy with what we’re accomplishing.”
While a smaller roster has more trouble representing the speed and intensity that the Maroons will see in the season, it was able to distinguish and build confidence for the veterans that Butte Central has at its disposal.
“I like the way the older kids are playing,” Peoples said. “We play against the No. 1 preseason team in Hamilton next Friday night, which will be a steep challenge. But that’s okay… Most of our [starting team] today are kids that have started one or two years, a couple of them that have played varsity for three years. I’m pleased with how everyone is playing.”
Having the starters and experienced players on the roster will be imperative as the clock ticks down to Hamilton’s visit to Butte this Friday. Hamilton went 9-0 in the regular season on the way to their state title game appearance, soundly beating the Maroons 54-21 in the sixth game of the 2018 season.
People and his team are not daunted by the prospect of facing such a strong opponent to the season. If anything, the atmosphere in the Maroons’ camp has been as positive as Peoples’ seen.
“I love their attidude,” Peoples said. “I love the positive energy we have in the program this year. I think the kids are working really hard, especially during training camp, which is a grind. I really like this group of kids and think their doing a great job.”
Standout performers during Central’s scrimmage included the duo of starting quarterback/safety Thomas McGree and starting running back/linebacker Eyston Lakkala, who were able to make plays on both sides of the ball on numerous occasions.
Peoples credits the team’s offseason program for the sharpness and consistency of their older players, and that it’s enjoyable as a coach to know that his team put in the hours required before fall camp began.
“On offense, we really want to execute well and that we’re precise with what we’re doing,” Peoples said. “In the offseason, we did a bunch of seven-on-seven, and they’ve been throwing the ball on their own since the spring. They got to be on the field a bunch this summer, so I think it’s paying off for us.”