BILLINGS – At the halfway point of the high school football season, Billings West’s goal is a simple one.
Don’t get complacent.
Easier said than done, as the Golden Bears have cruised to a 4-1 start to the season, capped off with a 44-0 Class AA football victory over crosstown rival Billings Skyview on Friday at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
“It’s been great. We were kind of disappointed with that drop in Bozeman but it taught us more than if we would have won,” senior and team captain JJ Lindsay said. “It taught us that we are beatable and we have to work hard. We’re a great group of guys, we’re bonding more than ever and we’re just super stoked to see where this season takes us one week at a time.
“I like to say complacency has no legacy. If we want to go big, we have to keep working hard.”
Friday night gave the Golden Bears plenty to be excited about. Against Skyview, West racked up 447 yards on offense and forced six turnovers, five of which were fumble recoveries. The Falcons mustered just 106 yards of total offense.
And @BWestFball reaches into its bag of tricks for the game’s first touchdown. Josh Erbacher throws it to Jesse Owens on a screen who throws it to Lucas Gibb who goes the distance. 60 yards and West leads 7-0 with 4:12 left in the 1Q #mtscores pic.twitter.com/df2EW3RiN9— Kyle Hansen (@khansen406) September 22, 2018
West kicked the scoring off with a trick-play in the opening quarter. Quarterback Josh Erbacher hit receiver Jesse Owens on what appeared to be a screen play, but Owens then threw it over the top to a wide-open Lucas Gibb who went 60 yards to open the floodgates. Erbacher would finish the game 13-for-23 for 168 yards and two touchdowns, finding Owens and Kade Wilcox.
Running back DeMarcus Carr continued his bulldozing ways for the Golden Bears, carrying the ball 28 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
“When you have linemen like we do that’s really helping open the holes for me, it helps me not take as many hits as other people,” Carr said about his nightly workload. “I really thank the linemen for that. They help out a lot.
“As the game goes on, I just get settled in and play my game.”
The loudest cheer of the night though came for senior running back Aidan Potter, who scored the game’s final touchdown on a one-yard run. Potter finished with five carries for 24 yards, and according to West coach Rob Stanton, it was Potter’s first varsity touchdown.
Subs are in and the loudest cheer of the night goes to senior running back Aidan Potter who barrels his way in for the 1-yard score. He accounted for all of @BWestFball’s yards that drive and West leads 44-0 with 8:28 left #mtscores pic.twitter.com/Z96LBFp96p— Kyle Hansen (@khansen406) September 22, 2018
“He’s just a kid who doesn’t say a word and has nice long hair,” Stanton said with a laugh. “The kids really battle for him and they wanted to get him a touchdown towards the end. He’s just a good kid, he works hard. It was fun that we got some kids an opportunity to get on the field.”
West’s defense appeared unstoppable at times. Along with his touchdown, Wilcox forced a fumble and recovered two more. After Skyview’s Hunter Bracewell intercepted a pass, Owens chased him down and forced a fumble and recovered it to get the ball back for West. Lindsey recovered a fumble to set up Carr’s first touchdown in the second quarter, while lineman Andruw Brester sacked Skyview’s backup quarterback Jaylen Baker and forced another fumble, which was recovered by Connor Paul. Zack Tallman added an interception while Jaden Bienvenue sacked Baker for a safety to put West up 30-0 in the third.
All in all, a dominant defensive performance.
“We’re pretty proud of our defense. We’ve been excited for the studs that we put on that side of the ball,” Lindsay said. “We practice our defenses all summer long going to certain camps and two-a-days and things like that. We’re a bunch of brothers and we just work well together. We communicate well and we just try and fly around and have fun.”
West (4-1), ranked No. 2 in the 406mtsports.com rankings, hosts Butte (2-3) next weekend, while Skyview (0-5) hosts Missoula Hellgate (1-4). The Falcons also ran into troubles when starting quarterback Dominic Stringari left the game early with an unknown injury.
“The final score doesn’t reflect how proud I am of our kids and just bearing down against a team that we knew was going to be tough,” Skyview coach Nathan Wahl said. “Our kids came in with an attitude ready to really put it up against them. Some things don’t go our way there. Our kids showed a grit tonight that’s not going to show up on the final score, but to me it’s something that I’m really proud of with our kids.”