The Choteau High School football team lost its season opener to nonconference Sheridan High School on the road, 27-25, in overtime heartbreaker.
The Bulldogs will be home this week, playing conference powerhouse Belt on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.
Coach Lucas Gunderson said he expects Belt, a team that’s at the top of the league, to be a tough team to beat. “We know they block well, they tackle well, they scheme well,” he said. “Coach Graham throws a new wrinkle every time they play us.”
In practice this week, he said, the Choteau boys will work on their individual assignments and improving how they execute their assignments. To win against a fundamentally sound team like Belt, the Bulldogs will need to stay in position on both offense and defense, do their jobs well and keep errors to a minimum. “I hope it’s a shoot out,” Gunderson said of the game.
Last weekend against Sheridan, Choteau junior Jacob Beattie played quarterback to give the team a stronger runner in that position. Sophomore quarterback Bowen Rappold is gaining experience as the junior varsity quarterback and will also see action on the varsity level.
This week, Gunderson said, he plans to play Beattie and Garret Torok, a junior transfer from Cut Bank, in the quarterback position. When Beattie is not playing quarterback, he will play receiver and tightend.
The CHS Bulldogs matched up well with the Sheridan Panthers. Both teams have 23 players out and both like to run the ball.
Choteau tallied 243 yards of total offense, including 186 rushing and 57 passing. Choteau’s leading rushers were Carter Morgan with eight carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns; Jeff Colesworthy with 17 carries for 102 yards; Beattie with 14 carries for 12 yards; and Derek Brownell with one 11-yard carry.
Beattie, playing in the quarterback position for the first time, completed three of seven passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Colesworthy was his favorite receiver with three catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
Sheridan posted 352 yards total offense, including 198 rushing and 154 passing for a balanced offense, led by freshman quarterback Trey Schrank, who completed 11 of 18 passes for three touchdowns.
Sheridan’s leading rushers were Kaiden Batzler, a senior, with 22 caries for 99 yards.
Gunderson said the Sheridan game was his first overtime with the team. “The boys fought really hard,” he said. They were down by six points for most of the fourth quarter, when the defensive line came up big and stopped a drive. With only about a minute left, Choteau’s offense took over and Choteau scored six points on a 10-yard pass from Beattie to Jeff Colesworthy to tie the game at 19-19.
“Our offense was doing well. We were running the ball really efficiently,” Gunderson said. Choteau’s defenders were also playing well, preventing Sheridan from running as much as the Panthers would have liked.
A few missed blocks and failing to capitalize on turnovers made the difference in the game, he said. Those are things the boys can improve on to become stronger in future games.
“All in all, it was great,” Gunderson said of the season opener. “We came out healthy. We picked up a ton of experience,” Gunderson said, adding that Choteau didn’t have a JV season last year.
Choteau 7-6-0-6-6 — 25 (OT)
Sheridan 0-13-6-0-8 — 27
Choteau — Carter Morgan 39-yd. run. (Kick good.)
Sheridan — 18-yd. pass. (Kick good.)
Choteau — Morgan 3-yd. run. (Extra point failed.)
Sheridan — 38-yd. pass. (Extra point failed.)
Sheridan — 5-yd. pass. (Extra point failed.)
Choteau — Jacob Beattie 10-yd. pass to Jeff Colesworthy. (Run failed.)
Sheridan — 5-yd. pass. (Conversion good.)
Choteau — Beattie 10-yd. pass to Colesworthy. (Run failed.)