The Power-Dutton/Brady High School cooperative Titans six-man football team is heading to the state championship game.
Not only will they play in the title match, PDB will host the defending six-man champions, Froid-Medicine Lake, on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Dutton. “This team will be breaking ground. As far as I know, none of the three communities have ever hosted a state championship football game at any level,” said PDB Head Coach Tom Tranmer. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
The Titans defeated Shields Valley, 21-12, in the semifinal game to punch their ticket to the title game. “They came together Saturday and played a very, very good football game against a tough team,” Tranmer said. “We have a great deal of respect for their coaches and players. They were a worthy opponent that gave us all they had and more.”
Tranmer said the first quarter was a defensive battle between the two teams, with neither scoring.
The Titans got on the scoreboard in the second quarter whne a pass from Kellan Doheny found John Baringer for a touchdown and an extra point coming from a Doheny pass to Jacob Feldmann made it 7-0. “In a defensive game like this, it is important to get on the scoreboard first,” Tranmer said. “It’s so much better to be playing with a lead than trying to catch up.”
The Rebels answered with a score from Kaden Acosta to Dylan Flatt just before halftime, with the kick going wide thanks to the wind, to make it 7-6 Titans at the break.
Tranmer pointed out a few key highlights he felt gave the Titans an advantage in the game. Having the ball the beginning of the third quarter was one of those. The Rebels won the toss and elected to receive the ball. “I was surprised by their choice, but understood they were hoping for a quick score and had the confidence in their team to do that,” Tranmer said.
As it worked out, Shields Valley didn’t capitalize on their strategy, but the Titans took advantage of the opportunity they were presented, receiving the ball to open the second half and quickly scoring at the beginning of the third quarter. John Baringer grabbed the short kick and ran the ball down to the 30-yard line. A couple plays later, the Titans connected on a nice pass moving them to the 2-yard line and from there Jake Feldmann ran in for a touchdown. Tyler Ellsworth was able to kick the ball in to give the Titans a 14-6 advantage. That wasn’t PDB’s only score of the third quarter. Spencer Lehnerz, who was wide open, caught a 16-yard pass from Doheny and with the kick not counting, the Titans moved ahead 21-6.
Shields Valley scored in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run from Dylan Flatt. The pass for the extra point failed.
Tranmer said they turned the ball over twice and had one interception. Without the stats in front of him, he wasn’t for sure how many turnovers Shields Valley had, but knew there were at least three, with Lehnerz picking up one and Doheny two, his second being huge. Tranmer recalled it was with four minutes or so left in the fourth quarter and Shields Valley was moving down the field. Doheny and a Rebel player went up for a long pass with Doheny winning the battle. “It was for sure the final turning point, it was a play that could have put them right back into the game or all but sealed the win for the us,” Tranmer said. “It then became a game of managing the clock and making sure we didn’t turn the ball over.”
As always, Tranmer said the Titans played as a team. He didn’t single out one player who shined on either offense or defense, but did say defense was a big part of the victory. He said throughout the season, Shields Valley scored 40 to 45 points a game. “For us to keep them to 12 points total was huge,” Tranmer said. “The D-line of Gavin Sealey and Garret Willmarth was tough, and Spencer (Lehnerz) and Jacob (Feldmann) were right there to back them up as was Doheny, Ellsworth and Baringer for the deep passes,” the coach said. He once again tipped his hat to Assistant Coach Darrell Laubach who had a great defensive game plan.
Looking ahead to the championship game, Tranmer said they know what they are facing. The Titans played Froid-Medicine Lake in a non-conference matchup on Sept. 11. The Titans lost that game, 56-22. “They are a good team with good athletes and well coached,” he said. “They just don’t have any weaknesses.”
Going into the championship game, Tranmer believes the Redhawks have the target on their backs as they have all year. “They have everything to lose and we have everything to gain as the saying goes,” coach said. He added the Titans will be the underdog going into the match to try and unseat the returning state champions who haven’t lost a game in two years.
With that said, Tramner pointed out the Titans have improved a lot since the match early in the season. “Our players believe in themselves and aren’t afraid to step on that field and play they game they know they are capable of,” he said. “They respect them but aren’t fearful of them. We plan to play relaxed and execute our game plan.”
The coach said the success of this team started with previous teams and players. “It is because of the teams over the past few years who have worked hard, believed in the program and cultivated a positive and winning attitude in the younger players,” Tranmer said. “It is that attitude that has carried forward and is part of the seniors this year.” Playing in a state championship game is somewhat of a rarity for the communities. According to Montana High School Association archives, the three schools combined have played in the title game five times. Tranmer said these title games were while playing six-man when there were only schools from the Northern Division who fielded teams in this classification. Dutton High School is the only one to win a title, defeating Highwood, 45-12, in 1988. Power played in three championship games taking second in each, 1983 against Geyser, 67-20; 1990, versus Denton, 31-22; and 1998, versus Chester, 35-20. Brady played twice, losing to Highwood, 21-19, in 1996, and Geraldine, 56-26, in 1997.
Tranmer said the team set some goals at the beginning of the year. “First and foremost was to win the division,” he said. “We knew Big Sandy was going to be strong again as well as several other teams and we just needed to take care of business and set ourselves up to win. With that accomplished, we have been taking it one game at a time in the playoffs.”
Personally, Coach Tranmer has had some goals for the team: first have fun, prevent injuries and last enjoy themselves and the ride.
The coaches and team couldn’t be more appreciative of the large crowds that have turned out to cheer on the Titans. “We had a great crowd in Power on Saturday, and I can’t wait to see how many come for the championship,” he said. “It is Cats-Griz this week, but I think a few will choose to watch us.”
It was windy on Saturday for the semifinal game, causing problems for both teams passing and kicking. Tranmer would like to see a little less wind this coming weekend but said for playing in middle of November, the weather is pretty good.
“I just love this team, they are very special, a wonderful group of young men who are a pleasure to coach,” Tranmer said. “I’m a happy camper, we have made it to the final game, and I have no doubt they will be ready and take care of business.”
“They will remember this forever,” Tranmer said, and no doubt so will he.
PDB 0-7-14-0 — 21
SV 0-6-0-6 — 12 PDB — John Baringer 8-yd. pass from Kellan Doheny. (Feldmann pass from Doheny.)
SV — Dylan Flatt 14-yd. pass from Kaden Acosta. (Kick failed.)
PDB — Jake Feldmann 2-yd. run. (Tyler Ellsworth kick.)
PDB — Spencer Lehnerz 16-yd. pass from Doheny. (Kick failed.)
SV — Dylan Flatt 2-yd. run. (Pass failed.)