BILLINGS — The Billings Central football team went 2-6 in 2002, Jim Stanton’s first year as head coach. Over the next 15 seasons, he can’t recall his team losing consecutive games.
The Rams carried a two-game losing streak into Friday, and neither defeat was close: Laurel ended a long drought with a 33-0 victory, and Miles City rolled over the Rams 41-10.
A third straight loss looked possible for most of the first half against Havre on Friday night at Herb Klindt Field, but Central (5-2) pulled away for a 42-22, record-setting Class A win on senior night.
“We struggled the last couple weeks in a lot of areas,” Stanton said. “It was good to get back on track.”
A 42-7 loss at Miles City on Sept. 27 was Havre’s last on-field game going into Friday. Central’s Thomas Hubbard returned the opening kickoff 60-plus yards, and fellow junior Marcus Wittman scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak less than three minutes in.
“We knew something like that could happen,” said Havre coach Ryan Gatch. “Three weeks is a long time not to play a football game.”
Havre (3-4) cut the deficit to 7-6, Central went ahead 14-6 and Havre’s Mason Dionne tied it up on a 23-yard run and two-point conversion late in the second quarter.
The Blue Ponies were in prime position to take their first lead with 2:07 left in the half, when a long snap sailed over the head of senior punter Keon Lockie and was downed at Central’s 3-yard line. Havre went backwards on the next three plays and failed to convert the fourth down.
“We played with a sense of urgency down there when we made the turnover,” Stanton said. “From that point, the kids really put it together and played Ram football.”
With about 1:15 left and the Rams 90-plus yards away from the end zone, the half appeared to be over, especially when Central decided to run the ball. But the first two plays resulted in first downs, and the second run went out of bounds, giving the Rams enough time to get aggressive. With four seconds left on the clock, Wittman completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior Charlie Parkan.
The TD was the first of four straight for Central. Junior Derek Damjanovich found the end zone on a 67-yard run, and Wittman connected with Parkan again to put the Rams up 35-14 late in the third quarter. A four-yard Wittman run in the fourth capped the scoring.
Camden Capser kicked all six extra points for Central. The fourth unofficially broke the Montana high school record for most career extra points by one player.
This actually broke the record.— Victor Flores (@VictorFlores_BG) October 19, 2019
Capser, a junior, said he’s made 131 PATs in his career, three better than previous record holder Brandon Purdy, a Kalispell Glacier graduate who now kicks for Montana. Before this season, Purdy told Capser to “go get” the record, according to Capser, who doesn’t have any definitive college plans yet.
“I’ve wanted this since freshman year,” Capser said. “I don’t think any record’s unbreakable, but I hope this stands for a long time.”