Flint Creek Arlee football

Flint Creek and Arlee players line up during their game Friday in Arlee. Flint Creek emerged with a 36-14 win.

ARLEE — The top-ranked and defending state champion Flint Creek Titans, on their way to demonstrating they belong in the same breath as the legendary Drummond squad that won three consecutive state Class C 8-man football titles from 2003 to 2005, took another solid step forward Friday.

The Titans scored a hard-earned 36-14 road victory over the inspired Arlee Warriors.

Sophomore quarterback Kade Cutler engineered a lightning-quick and efficient offense that shredded the Warriors early, racking up touchdowns on the Titans’ first four possessions. Flint Creek’s vaunted running attack was showcased early with a 61-yard run by Jaxon Lee and a 44-yard burst by Cutler on the next drive.

Flint Creek found itself in a football game at halftime, a new challenge for the 2018 campaign after pummeling opponents by a combined score of 302-30 over the first five games. Fired up by a lively homecoming crowd, the gritty Warriors controlled time of possession in the first half and kept the potent Titans offense on the sidelines for much of the second quarter.

Arlee quarterback Lane Schall hit Darshan Bolen for a nifty 10-yard TD to cut the gap to 20-14. But Flint Creek senior all-state running back Colby Manley countered with an 51-yard TD run.

Arlee had a chance to pull within a touchdown late in the second quarter but Flint Creek’s defense forced a fumble by Schall at the goal line, recovered by Riley Hall, preserving a 28-14 lead at intermission.

The tide turned in the second half as Flint Creek stopped the Warriors on their opening possession and then struck quickly with a razor-sharp drive capped by 15-yard TD on a read option run by Cutler. The Titans defense turned up the pressure in the second half with a blitz that stifled the Warriors passing game.

“That’s a very good football team,” Flint Creek coach Mike Cutler said. “We knew they would come out and play hard, and they did a good job early. Our D-Coordinator, Coach Holland, made an alignment adjustment midway through the second quarter that turned things around. I was proud of the way our kids competed tonight.”

Manley led Flint Creek with 116 yards on 13 carries. Cutler had 66 yards on 9 rushes and Lee added 64 yards on two rushes.

Schall threw for 222 yards and two TDs on 16 of 30 passing. Arlee’s ground game was led by Narshan Bolen with 61 yards on 16 rushes.

The signature of this Drummond-Phillipsburg outfit is vaunted ground game that harkens back to the fabled three-peat Drummond team was led by Chase Reynolds, who shattered the all-time Montana prep career rushing record and went on to an illustrious career with the Montana Grizzlies and played seven seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams. The 2018 version presents a three-pronged threat of Manley, Cutler, and Lee that will challenge Class C 8-Man defenses on the road to the State Championship this fall at Butte’s Naranche Stadium.

“This game was huge for us because we needed to be tested,” said Cutler.

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