BUTTE — Building a massive lead in the first half, the Butte High offense again shined in a 56-38 win over Helena Capital on Friday night at Naranche Stadium.
The victory moves the Bulldogs to 6-0 on the year and this season is the first time since 1991 they have been undefeated through six games. That season Butte finished 12-0, winning the state title 34-7 over Missoula Hellgate.
While the Bulldogs are not necessarily eyeing history, they are understandably pretty content with where they stand right now.
“We’ll enjoy this, but it’s on to (Kalispell) Flathead now,” Butte head coach Arie Grey said. “We played well and we did some really good things tonight … I’m happy with what we did and where we’re at. It’ll be nice to turn on that film and see some things that are really correctable.”
Leading 35-3 at halftime, Butte played one of its best defensive halves of the year over the first 24 minutes of play. But Helena Capital mounted a furious rally in the second half, scoring 14 points in the third quarter and 21 in the fourth.
The Bruins never really threatened the Bulldogs, though they did pull within 18 points with five minutes left in the fourth quarter after Helena Capital quarterback Bridger Grovom found wideout Cy Miller from 43 yards out. Capital recovered the ensuing onside kick, but then turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
Grey views the final two quarters as a learning experience for his players, while Capital head coach Kyle Mihelish seemed happy with his player’s resilience.
“We didn’t lie down in the second half, but we do need to be better in the second half,” Mihelish said. “We need to fix some alignment issues … we just need get cleaned up and they caught us on a couple things.”
The Bruins had a difficult time stopping the vaunted Bulldog rushing attack, as Butte gashed Capital for 332 yards on 55 carries. Quarterback Tommy Mellott and running back Kameron Moreno had 300 of those 332 yards and combined for four rushing touchdowns.
Mellott had several impressive long runs, finishing with 168 yards on 17 carries while Morneo, the workhorse back, had 27 totes for 132 yards.
The senior signal caller was also effective through the air, competing 10-of-22 passes for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In fact, Butte’s first play from scrimmage was a 62 yard Mellott-to-Quinn Sullivan pass that went for 62 yards.
“Hats off to our kids for coming ready to roll, hats off to our coaches for coming up with great plans,” Grey said. “The nice things about games like this is that you get to turn on the film and say, ‘Men, we’ve got some things to get better at,’ and that’s what you want.”
While there may be some teachable moments from the second half, few things went wrong for the Bulldogs early on against the Bruins.
Mellott scored on a one-yard touchdown run five players after the opening long completion and Butte held Capital to just a field goal on the next drive. Early in the second quarter Mellott struck again with his legs, carrying the ball in from 31 yards out. He followed that up with a 34-yard strike to Peyton Hettick and then Morneo pounded the ball in from six yards out to give Butte a 28-3 lead.
A punt block from Ryan Neil near the end of the second quarter was recovered by Dawson Roesti in the endzone for a score, giving the Bulldogs a 33-point lead heading into the break.
“Our defense was lights out in the first half, they did a great job of getting off the field and playing fast, playing physical,” Grey said. “Our defense, they’re tough. They play a lot of football. I don’t know if people realize how much time they spend on the field.”
The Capital offense did start to find a few cracks in the second half, especially Grovom. He scored four total touchdowns in the final two quarters and finished 24-of-48 through the air for 359 yards.
Miller was one of his favorite targets and finished with eight catches for 184 yards.
Butte will play Kalispell Flathead at home next week, while Capital will play Missoula Big Sky in Helena.