HELENA -- Coaches talk all the time about taking it one game a time, but when it comes to Helena Capital and Butte High on Friday night, it’s anything but another game.
“This is why you do it,” Capital head coach Kyle Mihelish said. “You don’t do it to have a clash of the 0-4’s of the world. This is huge for us. We are 4-1, they are 5-0. We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere and we are really looking forward to it.”
Fans of quarterback play should look forward to it too.
Butte High will boast Montana State commit Tommy Mellott, who has been an unstoppable force so far this season, completing 68.8% of his passes to go along with 15 touchdown passes and just one interception. He’s also averaging 270 yards per game, which tops Class AA.
“Tommy Mellott is the guy,” Mihelish said. “He’s a three-year starter and he does a lot of great things. Not only can he throw the ball, but he runs the ball well. He has a great offensive line in front of him and a great supporting cast. When you go up against a great player like him, you know he will get his. We just have to limit what he’s going to get.”
Led by Mellott, the Bulldogs' offense is averaging more than 45 points a game, and stopping them will certainly be a challenge for a Capital defense that comes in allowing 25 points a game.
Yet, the Bruins also boast an offense that scores 30 points a game, as well as a stellar starting quarterback in Bridger Grovom.
“Bridger is a good quarterback,” Mihelish said. “Everyone talks about Tommy Mellott, but we have a pretty good one ourselves, and I think he’s poised and ready to have a big game (Friday) night.”
Capital will also rely heavily on its running game, which is built around the backfield tandem of Kadyn Craigle and Noah Braden. Grovom also has one of the best receivers in Class AA, Parker Johnston, at his disposal.
And they will all need to bring their “A” game if the Bruins are going to pull the upset on second-ranked Butte, which already owns wins over third-ranked Helena High and fourth-ranked Missoula Sentinel.
But as far as Capital is concerned, the Bruins know exactly what’s at stake.
“It’s huge for the conference,” Mihelish said. “If you are going to drop two or three conference games, that will put you down at the four or five seed and you might be on the road for Week 10, so this is a huge game.”
Kickoff between the Bruins and Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m.
Helena High vs Kalispell Flathead
Following Helena High’s loss to Butte High a few weeks ago, the Bengals bounced back to win back-to-back games over Missoula Big Sky and Missoula Hellgate. Now, Kalispell Flathead, one of the last winless teams in Class AA, comes calling.
But despite their porous record, Bengals head coach Scott Evans said his team isn’t overlooking anyone.
“I don’t think you can ever overlook anybody,” Evans said. “With the way these divisions are, you are looking at every game as a way to improve seeding for the tournament down the road and Kalispell is a team that last year, played in the state title game.”
The third-ranked Bengals (4-1) come in featuring an offense that’s averaging just 27 points per game, but one that has also come close to 500 total yards in each of its last two outings.
Led by sophomore quarterback Kaden Huot, the Bengals finally broke out last week, scoring 42 points as Huot accounted for five total touchdowns. As of now, Huot is one of just three Class AA quarterbacks to have reached 1,000 yards passing already. In five starts, he has eight touchdown passes and averages 216 yards per game.
Of course, he hasn’t done it alone. Wide receiver Kyler Tesch has been a focal point for the Bengals, hauling in 34 receptions to lead Class AA in addition to 451 receiving yards and two scores.
Raef Miller is also coming off a two-touchdown game and running back/receiver Hayden Ferguson has also made an impact with 19 receptions and two touchdowns.
Additionally, Ferguson has eclipsed 100 yards in both rushing and receiving in separate games this season. Running back Logan Brown, who has averaged 85 yards per game on the ground, is another key cog.
“I don’t know how you defend us, but we are multiple and I love that,” Evans said. “I think our offensive coaches have done a great job mixing it up so we can use our ball-carriers and our receivers out there. We have options and we are using them well.”
The offensive weapons will be on display against a tough Kalispell defense Friday night at Vigilante Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Townsend vs Three Forks
While this is a big week for the Class AA teams in Helena, it’s also an important week in the Southern B for Townsend.
The Bulldogs notched an important 22-19 win over Jefferson last week on the road and now, with a win at home over Three Forks (7 p.m.), they will be just about guaranteed a playoff berth.
More importantly, if quarterback Trey Hoveland and wide receiver Gavin Vandenacre can lead Townsend to victory over Three Forks, it will set up a showdown with unbeaten Manhattan next Friday (Oct. 11) in a game that could determine the Southern B champion.
Jefferson at Whitehall
Jefferson may have suffered a setback last week, falling at home to Townsend, but the 2-2 Panthers are still in solid position for the playoffs.
Sitting at 2-1 in the Southern B, a win over Whitehall, as well as wins in the next two weeks will put Jefferson right in the mix, not only for a postseason berth but in the Southern B race, since they still have a game looming with Manhattan too.
Avery Stiles and Braden Morris have each split time at quarterback and wide receiver, while Jaxson Yanzick has led the way at running back for Clint Layng’s crew, which can surpass its win total from last season with a victory Friday at Whitehall. The game will start at 7 p.m.