The Choteau High School varsity football players romped to a, 62-8, victory over Rocky Boy at home on Sept. 6, winning their first conference game of the season. The Choteau boys will be home this week as well, playing Chester-Joplin-Inverness at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13, in another conference game.
The Choteau boys are now 1-1, with the win over Rocky Boy and the nonconference loss to Thompson Falls.
This week, the Choteau boys will be practicing to take on CJI, a team that is now 1-1 with a loss to Centerville and a victory over Cascade. Coach Lucas Gunderson said on Sunday that CJI has size advantage over Choteau with an offensive and defensive line that probably averages 210 to 220 pounds. CJI also has a skilled quarterback and a speedy running back and likes to use that combination for a rushing offense.
Gunderson said the Choteau boys will work to contain CJI’s speed and to corral the other team’s offense in the middle of the field, preventing CJI from breaking loose and running to the outside. He said he would like to see Choteau’s defensive line force CJI to pass more as the Choteau team’s pass defense has been doing very well so far this season.
Choteau will have a nearly full tally of players this week, missing only senior Bryce Gramm, sidelined again with the same shoulder injury that has plagued him throughout high school. Gunderson said center Sam Stutz, recovering from knee surgery in the off-season, has been starting on offense and will likely be able to play some defense as the season progresses.
In last week’s blow-out against Rocky Boy, Choteau’s offense, led by senior quarterback Johnny Rappold, ran up a 41-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Rocky Boy was unable to control Rappold or to stop Choteau’s running or passing game. The Bulldogs logged 354 yards of offense in the game, including 275 rushing yards and 79 passing yards.
Choteau scored on four running plays by Kyler Crabtree, including a 71-yard kickoff return; two passing plays, one by Kolby Kovatch and one by Keegan Thomas; a 35-yard quarterback keeper by Rappold; a 42-yard interception return by Tony Daley; and a 37-yard run by Carter Morgan.
Daley, a junior, kicked Choteau’s extra points, missing his first try, but nailing his next eight kicks.
Gunderson complimented Choteau’s special teams play, noting that the boys have had kickoff returns in both games so far this season as the team’s blockers have made holes for the runners to find.
On defense, Choteau’s boys tackled well and forced Rocky Boy to throw the ball. Choteau’s defenders came up with five pass interceptions: two for Kovatch and one each for Crabtree, Brady Armstrong and Daley. So far on the year, Gunderson said, Choteau has caused nine defensive turnovers.
“We are really happy with where they’re at, but we still have a long way to go,” Gunderson said, adding that this group of boys learns from their mistakes and plays hard.
Gunderson sent his starting lineup out onto the field in the first quarter, but with a 41-0 lead, he began making substitutions in the second quarter and by the second half had mostly junior varsity boys in the game, led by Daley, the backup quarterback. “It was a great learning experience for them,” he said of the younger players.
One of Choteau’s freshmen, Derek Brownell forced a fumble and recovered another and narrowly missed scoring with a 30-yard run. Sophomore Jacob Major had a sack and other underclassmen, including Landon Jamison, came into the game and played well as did Daley who not only had a great interception but also had an important mid-field tackle.
Gunderson also said he was pleased with how his starters played. “I just like the way the boys came out and attacked right away,” he said.
Choteau 41-14-7-0 — 62
Rocky Boy 0-0-0-8 — 8
Choteau — Kyler Crabtree 71-yd. kickoff return. (Kick failed.)
Choteau — Crabtree 30-yd. run. (Tony Daley kick.)
Choteau — Kolby Kovatch 55-yd. pass from Johnny Rappold. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Keegan Thomas 10-yd. pass from Rappold. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Crabtree 15-yd. run. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Rappold 35-yd. run. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Crabtree 43-yd. run. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Daley 42-yd. interception return. (Daley kick.)
Choteau — Carter Morgan 37-yd. run. (Daley kick.)
Rocky Boy — Sean Gibson 34-yd. punt block. (Two-point conversion good.)