EAST HELENA -- There have been a lot of firsts experienced by the East Helena football team this season and Saturday, the Vigilantes experienced another.
That’s because for the first time in their inaugural season, the Vigilantes won on their home field as they knocked off fellow high-school newcomer, Lockwood, 32-16 Saturday at the East Valley Middle School in East Helena.
It was the second meeting of the two teams this season and for the second time, the Vigilantes found the winner’s circle in front of a packed sideline of fans.
“It was awesome,” East Helena head coach Gus Somerfeld said. “These kids knew that a ton of people were going to be here. A lot of community members approached them throughout the week. I got a lot of phone calls, emails and texts saying good luck.”
“You don’t normally see that kind of support at the freshmen level,” he continued. “So that just shows how much they mean to the community and what the community means to them.”
Despite some injuries, the offense racked up five touchdowns and jumped out a 12-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to the first of three touchdown runs from Zyler Smith.
“Representing the team and East Helena, it’s great,” Smith said. “It’s the most fun I have had playing football ever.”
After Lockwood scored 16 unanswered points in the second stanza, the game was tight throughout as neither team was able to hit paydirt in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, Colter Charlesworth broke the stalemate, connecting with Trevor Held for a 20-yard touchdown, which pushed East Helena’s lead to 10. Charlesworth would also notch an interception late in the game to help ice the win.
“It felt great,” Charlesworth said of the touchdown pass. “It feels awesome being out here and having so many people cheer for us. That’s why we want to win every game.”
But the final dagger? That came courtesy of Smith.
On a power sweep that seemingly worked all day for the Vigilantes, Smith added the exclamation point to the homecoming victory, scampering 60 yards for a touchdown, causing a roar from the East Helena crowd.
“That was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “But I wouldn’t have made it without No. 12 (Kaeben Bushnell). He had a great block.”
“They understood that it wasn’t over until the final zero was on the clock,” Somerfeld said. “And they played until the whistle on every play.”
Homecoming festivities in East Helena also included volleyball and girls soccer Saturday. The volleyball team played in the morning against Frenchtown and lost in four sets but managed to win the third set thanks a strong run of serves from Dru Lindsey.
The Vigilantes also took on Columbia Falls in soccer and were defeated 5-0.