HELENA — The saying is that revenge is a dish best served cold and for Helena Capital, 354 days was a perfect time.
Just less than a year ago, Great Falls High drubbed the Bruins 32-0 and as the two teams met Friday night at Vigilante Stadium it was fresh in the minds of Helena Capital as the Bruins battered and bruised their way to a 31-21 victory.
“That was a motivating factor,” Capital head coach Kyle Mihelish said. “They put a whooping on us last year and I am happy for our kids that they were able to get a little revenge.”
The driving force behind the win was the backfield combo of Kadyn Craigle and Noah Braden, who combined for 246 rushing yards on 45 attempts. The two seniors also combined for four touchdowns.
“It’s always been me and him we are always getting the yards,” Craigle said of himself and Braden. “We have been running backs together since we were on the same small fry team. It’s been really special.”
The Bruins most recognizable players may be quarterback Bridger Grovom and wide receiver Parker Johnston, but against Great Falls High, the running game took center stage.
With rain soaking the field from start to finish, throwing the ball was a challenge and with the way Craigle and Braden were running, it wasn’t all that necessary.
Braden found the end zone in the first quarter on a 15-yard touchdown run which gave Capital a 7-0 lead that it would hold at the end of the first quarter.
In the second stanza, the Bruins continued to pound the rock. But then went with some misdirection, as Grovom connected with Kaelan Casey on a screen pass for 30 yards. Braden followed it with a 33-yard run, which set up a one-yard score from Craigle that made it 14-0.
“I liked what I saw from the offense,” Mihelish said. “It was good to see that versatility. It’s nice to know we can get the ball to the outside and throw it, but that we can also run and be physical.”
Just as the Bruins appeared to take control, Great Falls High answered with a 59-yard scoring strike from Andrew Almos to Levi Torgerson, cutting the deficit down to 14-7.
Leading 17-7 at the half, Capital continued to show off its offensive weapons in the third quarter.
Grovom connected with Casey for 20 yards and then hit Quinn Belcher for 22-yards, setting up a second Craigle touchdown run and pushing the lead to 24-7.
Great Falls High kept within striking distance after Gabe Longin scored following an interception by Torgerson. That made the score 24-14 heading into the fourth.
In the final stanza, the Bruins took possession of the ball inside their own 10 and after two third-quarter interceptions, Capital went back to its trusted duo.
The two backs alternated carries all the way down the field and Craigle eventually scored from eight yards out to cap a 90-yard drive that ran nearly six minutes off the clock and gave the Bruins a 31-14 lead.
“That was pretty big,” Braden said. “But I give all the credit to the offensive line. They are playing both ways all of them. So it’s up to them and we just follow their blocks.”
Torgerson caught another touchdown less than a minute later to get the Bison back within 10 at 31-21. However, it was too little too late.
The Bruins kept with their ground-and-pound strategy and utilized Craigle, Braden and the offensive line to milk the clock and wrap up the 10-point victory.
When it was all said and done, both backs went over 100 yards for the day. In addition to three touchdowns, Craigle racked up 141 yards on 33 rushes, while Braden had 100 on 11 attempts.
Casey also added three receptions for 98 yards to lead the passing attack for Capital. Grovom finished with 144 yards passing on 8-of-18 attempts. Andrew Almos was 8-of-20 for 126 yards for the Bison, while Torgerson finished with four receptions for 107 yards.