MISSOULA — As Kaden Huot escaped what seemed like a sure sack attempt and rolled to his right, he lowered his shoulder and blasted a defender as he crossed the goal line.
The Helena High quarterback showed toughness and determination on that play in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, something that’ll be appreciated by Bobby Hauck, his future coach with the Montana Grizzlies. Hauck may be more excited by the arm, accuracy and decision making Huot showed in breaking Helena’s single-game records for total touchdowns and touchdown passes.
The stage wasn’t too big for Huot as he tossed six touchdowns and ran for another score as the fifth-ranked Bengals (3-1) rolled to a 63-6 win over Missoula Hellgate (1-2) under the lights Friday at his future home. Hauck might also be pleased with how Huot summed up the win.
“Team effort,” he said in trying to describe his record-breaking performance in the win with one word. “It was all the team. I couldn’t have done it without my whole team. The O-line blocked really well. The receivers caught their passes. The running backs blocked their butts off. I’m just so proud of my offense and my coaches calling great plays. We executed the plays well, and I’m really excited about that.”
Huot lived up to the billing as a 3-star recruit and the top-ranked Class of 2022 player in the state of Montana in 247Sports' rankings. He finished 16-of-21 passing for 320 yards and six touchdowns — all in the first half, as he sat out after the run-only first drive of the second half. Even his incompletions were mostly off by just a hair or dropped by his receivers.
Huot completed passes to five different receivers. Chase McGurran caught four passes for 129 yards and two scores. Carson Anderson had four catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. Kade Schlepp had three touchdown receptions and 46 yards on six catches.
“He was just on,” Helena coach Scott Evans said. “He hit the right targets when he had his chance. He did a good job of controlling the game. I liked that he took what they were giving him. He did a good job of that. I was so proud of him throwing some deep balls, stretching guys out because that helps us down the road. He was on target. It was cool to see.”
For all the passing Huot did, Helena’s game plan going in was to establish the run. As Hellgate stacked the box, the Bengals went to the air, throwing for 328 yards while running for 214. Of their 542 yards of offense, 438 came in the first half as they passed for 320 and ran for 118.
Huot didn’t need to use his legs much but managed 32 yards and one touchdown on three runs. Griz commit Marcus Evans, the fifth-ranked Class of 2022 player in the state of the Montana, added a touchdown run in the second half and finished with 48 yards on 10 carries. Cade Holland paced Helena with 74 rushing yards and one score on eight carries.
“He’s just a great player and could have broken that record three or four times already,” Marcus Evans said. “Today, he finally got it, and I’m so proud of him. I’m glad to be on his team.”
It was just the type of outing Helena wanted after falling behind 27-0 in a surprising 34-20 loss to Butte last week. The Bengals, who are expecting to compete for the Class AA championship, needed to rebound like that ahead of next week’s showdown with No. 1 Missoula Sentinel, which beat No. 3 Kalispell Glacier, 29-21, in a battle of undefeated teams.
“We were all focused and ready to go because we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder from last Friday losing to Butte,” Huot said.
Marcus Evans echoed that thought, saying: “After last week, we were very driven and came out with intensity and were all cylinders go.”
Huot started with a 42-yard touchdown pass to McGurran, who evaded defenders after catching the short pass over the middle. He then fired a 6-yard touchdown pass to Schlepp, who made a leaping catch in the front, right corner of the end zone, on a designed rollout to the right. Huot’s 15-yard TD scamper, set up by a long McGurran punt return, made it 21-0. He later connected with Anderson on a double move down the left sideline for a 30-yard score.
In the second quarter, Holland scored on an 8-yard run one play after Huot had a nice shoulder fake and hit Anderson for a 40-yard gain. Huot later fired a bullet over the middle to Schlepp for a 9-yard score to go up 42-0. After Hellgate got on the board, Huot tossed a pass in the flat to McGurran, who dodged multiple defenders for a 71-yard touchdown. In the final minute of the first half, Huot found Schlepp for a 3-yard score on a designed rollout to the right one play after a long interception return by Colter Petre for a 56-6 lead.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Hellgate coach Mick Morris said. “We didn’t get a lot of pressure on him. The few times we did, he was able to escape the pocket or make a throw. He showed why he is who he is and why he’s going to be playing on Saturdays.”
Morris added that Huot reminds him of Kris Brown, UM's current backup quarterback who starred at Bozeman High: "We played Kris a couple years ago and he made some throws where our kids are making plays on the ball and it's just beating them there."
Hellgate lost a fumble on its first play, got off to a slow start and looked rusty like a team that hadn’t played in two weeks, having to sit out last week because of COVID. Hellgate kept battling back but was limited to 238 yards of offense while quarterback Connor Dick was held to 9-of-30 passing for 207 yards and one touchdown.
Hellgate didn’t make it into Helena territory until late in the first quarter, when it turned over the ball on downs. On their next drive, the Knights got to the 9-yard line, but Evans picked off Connor Dick in the end zone on fourth down. Their lone score came on a 56-yard pass from Dick to Leo Filardi, who shook off one tackle before running the rest of the way for a touchdown.
“We just got beat tonight and got beat pretty handily,” said Morris, whose team hosts winless Kalispell Flathead on Thursday. “That’s hell of a football team, and they were obviously pretty hungry coming off of a loss.”