HELENA — The era of Helena High football’s first-year coach Scott Evans began with a win as the Bengals defeated CM Russell 16-6 at Vigilante Stadium on Friday night.
CMR scored first, on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kellen Hartman, with 2:42 left in the initial quarter. The kick failed, and the visitors took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
Helena closed the gap to 6-3 when junior kicker Cavin Wade booted a 35-yard field goal at 6:42 left in the second period.
After the Bengals stopped a Rustlers drive in the third deep in their own territory on a missed CMR field goal, the Bengals trailed 6-3 heading into the final frame.
But then HHS running back Grady Koenig took over.
Koenig nearly single-handedly – with help from the offensive line of course – drove more than 65 yards, culminating in a 2-yard plunge to pay-dirt.
Wade’s kick made put the Bengals in front 10-6.
Then with 3:10 left, after a couple big completions by quarterback Ty McGurran, the Bengals signal-caller connected with Aidan Brus on a 12-yard scoring strike for the final margin, of 16-6.
McGurran finished the night with seven completions in 18 attempts for 102 yards. Koening rushed for 110 yards on 37 carries, and caught two passes for 46 yards.
“After a rough start, Ty settled in and started throwing some beans,” Evans said. “He made three huge throws that iced the game in the fourth. And Koening, I call him the Iron Horse. What a great motor, and he kept asking for more carries … think might run home with ball.
“And don’t forget the O-line. The beasts of burden really pushed things around for us.”
But the night belonged to Helena’s defense, with HHS holding the Rustlers to just 72 total yards, 61 passing and 11 rushing.
Among the defensive standouts were Hayden Ferguson, AJ Johnson, Jack Kanta, Sam Shepherd, Keanan Horne and Connor Murgel.
“That defense really played well, they got after the ball, everyone of them,” Evans said. “We’ve got some creatures out there that run around well; they cause havoc, they really came after it. And that whole D-line opened up some wholes for them.”
Evans also gave credit to CMR.
“I’ll tell ya, their defense is solid, CMR’s D-line is one best we’ll face," Evans said. "They’re very good, they’ll win a lot of ballgames this year."