Hawks fight for No. 2 seed
Tromp Troy Trojans 50-6 to improve to 7-1 overall
October 24, 2019
The Blue Hawks are in, but will they end up second or third?
The Thompson Falls Blue Hawks blasted the Trojans 50-6 in Troy last Thursday and have clinched a berth in the rapidly approaching Montana State 8-Man playoffs, but where they fall in the final standings is of critical importance. And on the line this week as the regular season ends and the final pecking order is determined.
Now 6-1 in Western Conference play and 7-1 overall, the same as the Mission Bulldogs whom the Hawks are tied with, the Falls boys wrap up the regular season hosting 4-3, 4-3 Seeley-Swan.
Mission jumped into the Top 10 rankings at No. 5 among Montana 8-Man teams last week after not being ranked previously. Previously ranked No. 6, the Hawks dropped down to No. 7 in the latest poll. Mission defeated three-time State 8-Man champion Flint Creek 50-36 in Mission last week. The Hawks flogged Flint Creek 64-24 in Thompson Falls several weeks ago in comparison.
If the Hawks and Bulldogs end up tied in the final standings, the No. 2 seed out of the conference comes down to a tiebreaker based on points allowed versus common opponents and right now Thompson Falls has allowed 126 points and Mission 132.
Mission completes its regular season at 4-3 Darby this week. The difference between finishing second or third is stark, as the second place team will stay home for the first round of the playoffs while the third place club will be forced on the road to play the South’s No. 2 team at their place.
The importance of Friday’s game with Seeley is not lost on coach Jared Koskela.
“We have got to control our own destiny,” he said. “We have to assume Mission will give up zero points, so we are going to have to try to do that, too.”
Shutting out Seeley, a team that Mission defeated 29-6 earlier this season, could prove to be challenging. Seeley had a bye last week. The Blackhawks lost 80-44 in Seeley Lake to No. 2 Clark Fork in their most recent game.
“Seeley started out the season pretty strong but has struggled some lately,” Koskela said, “but this is their last game and they have nothing to lose.
“They are way fast and have a big, mobile quarterback who can pass or run,” he added. “We will have to control him and a couple of their other skill kids if we want to win.”
The Hawks’ want to win has not been called into question this season and the latest example came in cold, wet Troy Friday night.
In spite of having several touchdowns called back, having an apparent interception negated by a mystery pass interference call and having Troy awarded a touchdown they did not apparently actually score, the Hawks made short work of the Trojans.
Thompson Falls raced out to a lead of 30-0 by the end of the first quarter as Trey Fisher romped to touchdowns on runs of 33 and 28 yards, and running mate Nate Wilhite reached paydirt on jaunts of 16 and 40 yards.
Brandon Zimmerman also scored by tackling a Troy ball-carrier in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter.
Alex Vogelsang got in on the scoring by returning an interception six yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Dakota Irvine completed Thompson Falls’ march into the Troy end zone with a pair of TD pass catches from Fisher in the third quarter, from 26 and 10 yards.
Wilhite wound up with 122 yards rushing on 15 carries and Fisher gained 74 yards on five. Justin Miller added 25 yards, Roman Sparks 12, Trae Thilmony eight and Zimmerman seven.
Fisher completed four of four passes for 73 yards for two touchdowns, with both scoring strikes going to Irvine. Wilhite also caught a pass for a 25-yard gain.
Fisher had another monster game in leading the Hawk defense, terrorizing the Trojans with 11 total tackles including four quarterback sacks.
Zimmerman added six tackles, Matt Duplechain and Eiken Newman four apiece, and Wilhite, Vogelsang and Irvine three each.
Zimmerman and Sparks intercepted two passes apiece and Vogelsang one, and Wilhite recovered a fumble.