Glasgow Whipped The Wildcats
But The Scotties' Biggest Game Of The Year Is Friday Against Malta
BY J. LEVI BURNFIN COURIER SPORTS
Published: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
The cheerleaders may have been the hardest working Scotties during the homecoming game against Harlem on Friday. The Scottie football team scored 66 points on the Wildcats and, by tradition, the cheerleaders did one jumping jack for each point after every touchdown.
All together, the cheerleaders, and the student section in the stands, did 363 jumping jacks on the night. But even that number may be not be the most impressive statistic from the game.
The Scotties gained 470 total yards on offense – 373 on the ground. It was quite an offensive display as Scottie running backs broke off several long runs.
They were just as impressive on defense.
“The goal was to not allow a first down in the first quarter,” said Head Coach Greg Liebelt.
That goal was put in serious doubt on the very first play from scrimmage when the Wildcats gained nine yards to put them at second-and-1. But the Scotties stiffened, denied the Wildcats the first down and held Harlem to negative yardage for the rest of the game; Harlem finished with 8 yards total.
The outcome was never in doubt. The Scotties scored 20 points in the first quarter on two short rushing touchdowns from Jonathan Koessl and a 15-yard touchdown run from quarterback Lane Herbert.
The Scotties didn’t slow down in the second quarter on their way to scoring touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game
The Scotties hope to get out to a fast start again this Friday against their bitter rivals, the third-ranked Malta Mustangs.
“I expect to get out to a good start defensively and be able to stop [Malta] and give our offense a chance to get going,” said Liebelt.
Being able to stop Malta’s high-scoring offense took a hit in the game against Harlem, though.
One of the key players in stopping the Wildcats early in the game was senior linebacker Andy Gardner. But halfway through the first quarter, Gardner went down with a knee injury and was unable to return to the game. Tests on Tuesday revealed that Gardner tore both his ACL and MCL in his right knee and will be out for the season. That’s a big loss for a stout Scottie defense.
Gardner is the quarterback on defense. He makes the defensive play calls, makes sure his teammates are lined up correctly and on more than one occasion has called out the play of the opposing offense before they even snap the ball.
Gardner was also a starting guard on an offensive line that has been able to open some big holes for their running backs. His injury comes on the heels of Jason Thibault breaking his ankle in the previous week. Thibault provided depth on both sides of the ball and was the backup kicker. Thibault being the backup kicker is important because, of course, Gardner was the starting kicker.
And the kicking game really struggled after Gardner’s injury. The Scotties missed on five of seven extra-point tries after Gardner left the game.
Against Harlem, those missed points didn’t count for much. But in a game against Malta, every point will count.
Malta is 5-0 on the season with lopsided victories over three non-conference foes, Huntley Project (3-2), Shepherd (2-3) and Cut Bank (3-2), and two conference teams, Harlem and Plentywood. They outscored those teams 214-26. Their smallest margin of victory is a 27-6 win over Cut Bank.
The Mustangs last loss was to Fairfield in the Class B State Championship game last year. And since 2010, Malta is 24-2, with both losses coming against Fairfield. Glasgow lost to Malta twice in that span with a combined score of 94-12. Glasgow’s last win against Malta came in a 13-7 victory in 2009.
Their explosive offense is run by dual-threat senior quarterback Kendall Denham and junior running back Reid Robinson in the backfield.
Finally, their offensive line and defense is led by University of Montana commit Tucker Schye. All of that is to say, Malta is very, very good.
But the Scotties are a very good team, too. And they do have the advantage of playing a team, Fairfield, that is at least as talented as Malta, if not more. They should know what to expect from Malta. The Mustangs on the other hand, have not faced a team as good as Glasgow. And have definitely not seen a defense like Glasgow’s.
Malta can win many of their games by simply being more physical than their counterparts. But the Scotties have already shown they can be just as physical as any team they play.
Even in the Fairfield game, the Scotties were not outmatched physically. It was just a matter of mistakes that cost the Scotties against Fairfield. The same will be true against Malta.
If the Scotties turn the ball over or commit several penalties, the Mustangs will take advantage. That’s what great teams like Malta do.
On the other hand, the Scotties have been able to force their opponents to make mistakes, too. They have forced a turnover in every game this season. They rally to the ball to force fumbles and their secondary has made big interceptions when they needed them the most.
The defense will have to keep consistent pressure on Denham and force him into making a few mistakes. And hopefully, those mistakes will allow the Scottie offense to gain some momentum behind their multi-faceted run game. The Harlem game aside, the Scottie offense has taken a while to start being effective in games this season. That’s mostly expected. Their running game is designed to break down opponents over the course of the game.
Koessl is their leading rusher with 341 yards so far this year and Bryan Larson isn’t far behind with 215. Lane Herbert and his receivers will continue to try to keep the defenses honest by trying to hit on a few long pass plays.
But if Glasgow can’t slow down Malta’s offense early in the game, it will be difficult to keep up on offense.
Glasgow will have to overcome the injuries they have sustained so far, but this group has confidence. They expect that the next guy in line will fill in and perform well. In Gardner’s case, Boyd Sinclair is expected to fill in on defense after missing the first few weeks of the season with an injury.
Sinclair made several impressive plays on Friday against Harlem. Sinclair is also in the running to fill Gardner’s open guard spot on the offensive line.
Griffen Bengochea missed the Harlem game with a concussion and is expected to miss the Malta game, as well. With Plentywood, Wolf Point and Harlem struggling so far this season, they are a combined 3-12, this game will most likely decide the District 2B champion. That distinction is important in an attempt to avoid the winner of District 1B in the state playoffs. The winner of 2B will face the runner up of District 5B.
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