'Ready to roll': Butte High set to host Kalispell Glacier in Class AA quarterfinals

Posted at 10:57 AM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 12:57:32-04

BUTTE — Butte High is rested and ready.

The Bulldogs claimed the No. 3 overall seed in the Class AA playoffs and earned a bye week. They used that break to get healthy and focus on fundamentals.

"We got healthy and took some time to work on the basics which every team needs," said senior kicker Casey Kautzman. "It was a good week to have that and we're ready to roll."

The Bulldogs will now face off against Kalispell Glacier, coming off a 21-14 first-round win over Billings Senior, on Friday at Naranche Stadium in a rematch of an Oct. 8 game that Butte rallied to win 20-17.

"We were pretty banged up that game, missing quite a bit of starters," Kautzman said. "They're all back, most of them. And we're healthy. But they were banged up too, and they're playing good ball right now. It's gonna be a great game and it'll be a battle to the end."

Butte's primary objective will be containing running back Jake Rendina, who has rushed for over 1100 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season. The Bulldogs largely bottled him up in their regular-season meeting, holding the 6-foot, 230-pounder to 75 scoreless yards on 16 carries.

The Bulldogs went on to beat Missoula Hellgate 30-27 the following week and then closed out the regular-season at home with a 28-14 loss to defending champion Missoula Sentinel. Butte scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and overall showed promise against a team that hasn't dropped a game in two years .

"I think we made ourselves into some believers and made some other people into believers," said Butte coach Arie Grey. "But that game's over. That's two weeks ago. So we can't worry too much about what happened with Sentinel and we can only focus on what we can control today. And number one is we've got to get better."

Butte junior quarterback Jace Stenson has steadily improved as the season has progressed, throwing for over 1600 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding four rushing scores. Cameron Gurnsey and Dylan Snyder have been his primary targets with Gurnsey catching four touchdown passes and racking up 809 yards and Snyder leading the Bulldogs with seven touchdown receptions.

The last time the two teams met, a holding in the end zone call against Glacier — and subsequent safety — with less than five minutes remaining proved to be the deciding play. The outcome of Friday's win-or-go-home game may very well come down to who avoids critical mistakes.

Said Grey: "I'm sure both teams are sitting there going 'if we can take care of business, control what we can control, good things are going to happen.'"