TRACK AND FIELD
TRACK AND FIELD
DRAMA & THEATRE
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CAT, DOG FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
August 22, 2013Columbia Falls High School
Flathead County High School Football Preview
The Best in the Valley Compete for Gridiron Glory in 2013
Columbia Falls Returns Bolstered
here were plenty of bright spots last season for a team dominated by youth and guided by a new head coach. Friday nights in Columbia Falls should be even more dazzling this fall.
A bolstered group of experienced players is back this season. The Wildcats returned to the field recently to prepare for the opener against Lewistown at home on Aug. 31.
“They should be tough. We have almost everybody back,” head coach Jaxon Schweikert said. “I think they’re set up in a great position.”
Excitement is boiling in C-Town as the local football team aims at building on last season’s impressive success. The returning talent includes senior quarterback Jared Trinastich and senior running back Zach Darling. Trinastich completed 56 percent of his passes — 158 of 282 — for 1,885 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. He averaged 209 yards per game. Darling rushed for 586 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also standing out on defense as an all-conference linebacker.
A few key players have graduated, like leading receivers Dyllon Parker and Colin King, but talented replacements are ready, like junior back Ty Morgan, senior back Josiah Osborne and senior receiver Alex Presnell. Morgan was seventh in the conference in scoring with 54 points. Osborne had 13 receptions for 344 yards and four TDs. Presnell made a name on defense, snagging three interceptions.
The Wildcats will try to unseat Polson as the king of Northwestern A. Columbia Falls hosts the Pirates in the final game of the season, which could have added importance if the league title is on the line.
The Pirates have dominated in recent years, especially the past two, in which Polson has gone 16-1 in the regular season. In 2012, the Pirates were bumped from the semifinals of the Class A playoffs by Beaverhead County.
Columbia Falls surprised some last season when it transitioned quickly under Schweikert. The Wildcats defeated rival Whitefish on the road for the team’s first conference win of the season, 14-13. They went on to advance to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, but first since 2010, when the team won the conference title. Anaconda dropped Columbia Falls in the first round, 32-14. The Wildcats finished 4-5 overall.
The schedule features an interesting twist. Whitefish travels to its rival on Sept. 27 for Columbia Falls’ homecoming game.
That’s guaranteed to be a battle that shouldn’t be missed.
Whitefish Ready to Grow as Underdogs
he Bulldogs have been on a bit of a rollercoaster the last few seasons, but a few skilled underclassmen and a strong senior class could provide successful stability in Whitefish this fall.
Quarterback Luke May returns for his sophomore year with an impressive rookie season under his belt. As a freshman a year ago, May stepped into the starting role and completed 143 of 234 passes for 2,020 yards and 19 touchdowns. He averaged 224 yards per game and also carried the ball 89 times for 383 yards and two TDs. It will be exciting to see what a year of growth has done for the athletic sophomore.
There’s also Sean Foley, a senior receiver and defensive back who caught 32 passes for 460 yards and three TDs last season.
“Our senior class is doing a great job of leading us,” head coach Chad Ross said. “We’re excited.”
The Bulldogs kick off the season Aug. 31 at home against Havre. The schedule features five home games, including two straight in the opening weeks.
Whitefish is trying to regain its swagger and return to the playoffs after missing out last season. The Bulldogs finished 3-6 overall and 1-3 in Northwestern A, earning fourth in the conference. The Bulldogs lost three games by only seven points last season, and each of those were against eventual playoff teams.
With a strong group of returners and skill-position players, Ross is encouraged by his team’s upside.
The true test will arrive Oct. 4, when Whitefish hosts the two-time reigning conference champs for its homecoming game. The Bulldogs also welcome Frenchtown, the conference’s No. 2 team last year, on Oct. 16 and Corvallis on Sept. 20.
Whitefish went 1-7 in 2010 and 5-3 in 2011.
Last season the Bulldogs’ offense was mighty potent, thanks to May’s surprising poise as the team’s signal caller. Whitefish led the conference in offensive output, although the team’s scoring ranked third, behind Polson and Frenchtown.
The defense struggled to keep points off the scoreboard, though. Whitefish ranked fourth out of five teams for points allowed, with 257, or 28 per game on average. Polson was first, allowing only 70 points all season. Frenchtown was second, 111 points, followed by Columbia Falls, 24.5 ppg.
The Bulldogs will have to maneuver around construction through September. The school’s renovation is ongoing and the new basketball court is complete but adjacent athletic facilities and locker rooms remain incomplete.