Central Montana Sports Round-Up With Chris Kelly
Class C State Championship Saturday - November 18, 2023
Central Montana was well represented on Championship Saturday as we had two local teams in the mix. The Belt Huskies welcomed the Fairview Warriors to Remington field in Belt and the Centerville Miners traveled almost 400 miles to Medicine Lake to take on the Froid - Medicine Lake Redhawks.
For the Belt Huskies, it was the first time they had ever hosted a state championship football game, and the town was ready. The Huskies had knocked off St. Ignatius last year by a score of 52-24 to claim the top spot, and they wanted a repeat. Earlier in the season, there had already been a Husky-Warrior match-up, and Belt came up short. Losing 21-20 in a game that came down to the last second play on a hot day on the red turf in Winifred. Fairview had been crowned state champions in 2019 for the first time their schools history, and this group of athletes wanted to take the honor back.
In the first quarter, Belt struggled some turning the ball over twice and allowing Fairview to lead 7-0 and gain important early momentum. Belt adjusted well in the 2 quarter with quarterback nd Reese Paulson running for 2 touchdowns giving the Huskies the lead at 14-7. With only 48 seconds remaining until halftime, Fairview marched down the field and finished with a score, making everything tied at 14's going into halftime.
Throughout the first half, both teams relied heavily on the run game, with all of the scoring coming off of quarterback Tjelde for the Warriors and Paulson for the Huskies, but halftime is all about adjustments. The primary weapon that Fairview had over Belt was a strong kicking game behind the leg of Tyler Loan along with one of the largest lines in the state, but Belt had speed and versatility.
The second half opened with Fairview turning the ball over resulting in another TD for quarterback Paulson and things are looking good for Belt as they now lead 22 -14. But some inopportune penalties and turnovers would be difficult for the Huskies to overcome. Fairview scored three times in a row including 2 long touchdown runs which allowed the Warriors to take the lead and never look back. Belt was only able to punch it into the end zone one more time in the 2 half allowing the Fairview Warriors to claim their 2 state championship 40-28. Putting nd nd the crown on after the end of a perfect 12-0 season.
The Centerville Minors were riding high through an perfect season as well in 6-man football. Earning their way into the state championship game by knocking off a strong Custer-HyshamMelstone squad solidly in the semis. The next problem was the Froid Medicine-Lake team was also undefeated coming into the state championship game and they had home field advantage. Both teams had similar styles of play with powerhouse offenses and stingy defenses.
The weapon that Centerville used predominately was junior quarterback Luke Kelley and the Redhawks couldn’t find an answer. The first score of the game was a pass from Kelley to Annis for a 70 yard score, but Froid-Medicine Lake responded in kind leaving the game tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Kelley then took the 2 quarter on his shoulders scoring three times in a row and Froid-Medicine nd Lake could only score once leading the game into halftime with a score of 28-12. The third quarter was essential a repeat of the 2 , with Kelley notching an additional 2 touchdown runs nd and a pass to Olson for another score. The Redhawks would not be denied getting a kick-off return for a score and a passing touchdown as well, but going into the 4 quarter they had to find th a way to come back after being down 48-26.
The Redhawks did score three more times in the fourth period, but Kelley ran in an additional 2 touchdowns to finish the game. Giving the Redhawks their first loss of the year, and taking home their first 6-man football state championship with a 63-48 victory.
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