For Butte Central football, it’s not about making the playoffs —it’s about doing something when they get there.
The Maroons have made the state playoffs 20 of the past 25 years, and since 2001 they have qualified for each tournament field every year except 2011.
Now coming off a 4-6 season and first-round playoff Class A loss in 2012, the Maroons will once again head into the postseason, albeit not in the best position they had hoped for heading into the campaign.
Central (5-4) travels for a first-round game 1 p.m. Saturday at Whitefish (7-2), with the winner to advance to next weekend’s quarterfinal at Belgrade.
“Qualifying for the playoffs is extremely import to us and we believe it is our most important goal,” Central head coach Don Peoples Jr. sad. “Once we qualify, we reset our goals and strive to win one game at a time.”
A nine-time semifinalist since 1992, including that year’s run to the state final, Central will hope to do at least one better than last year despite their seesaw run of play this season.
“We have had some ups and downs this season, but I believe our kids have been very resilient,” Peoples said. “Every time our backs were against the wall they stayed tough and responded. .. They have faced adversity several times this year and always fought hard to come back.”
They’ll have to take that fight to Whitefish quarterback Lucas May — a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore in his second year as a starter —running back Calub Thilmony, speed receiver Sean Foley and a 3-4 defensive package with an aggressive blitz.
The Maroons have played one of the toughest schedules in all of Class A.
“We played three conference champions in Dillon, Billings Central, and Belgrade,” Peoples said. “ We believe that the difficulty of our schedule has helped us grow as a team and improve. When you play great teams it makes you go to another level.”
Central will have to remain levelheaded.
“We are focused on this week’s game and have not looked beyond Saturday,” Peoples said. “We learned from last year’s playoff game at Frenchtown that you have to be at your best at playoff time and anything less will not allow you to win. ... We are going take all of the experience from the regular season and put in on the field Saturday.”
Central will count on running back Wyatt Kingston (140 carries, 1,049 yards, 15 touchdowns), Kale Guldseth (57 receptions, 829 yards, 10 touchdowns), Connor McGree (28 receptions, 384 yards, five touchdowns), Dalton Sessions (20 receptions, 444 yards, three touchdowns), Chad Peterson (20 receptions, 269 yards, three touchdowns), and Danny Peoples (139 completions, 2,045 yards, and 22 touchdowns).