BUTTE - It wasn't always pretty, but it looked pretty good.
The Flint Creek Titans hammered the Clark Form Mountain Cats Saturday afternoon 50-16, advancing to 1-0 on the year. The game was played at Butte's Naranchae Stadium, which will also be the site of the Class C 8-Man State Championship at season's end.
But when asked after the game about that fact by a reporter, Titans Coach Mike Cutler was having none of it.
"I have no comment on the state championship game," he replied. "What I can tell you is that the field here is awesome and the environment here is awesome. Fans are right on ya and I don't know that there is a high school stadium, at least not in this state, that matches the environment here."
The only people at Saturday's game that may not have thought it was quite as awesome as Coach Cutler were the Mountain Cat players and fans.
Their first possession set the tone for the game as Clark Fork Head Coach Jeff Schultz did exactly what Cutler said opponents would have to do all season - make a choice. Schultz' choice was to try and take Junior receiver Jaxon Lee out of the game by playing him tight and double-teaming him. That choice left the field wide open for Titan senior Colby Manley.
"They were going to take Jaxon away 20 yards deep," said Coach Cutler, "but Colby must have had 300 yards or something."
Manley, running behind the solid blocking of his linemen, found gaping holes in the defense that allowed him to run untouched for 10 to 15 yards before had to try an elude anyone. Flint Creek quickly worked the ball down the Mountain Cat 16 before Manley scored the first of his game-high five touchdowns. Total yardage was unavailable immediately after the game, but it was clear that Manley may have racked up a ton of yards.
"Our line was putting their work in," Manley said with a smile when asked about his day. "Kane's (Hess) lead blocking for me was great."
Flint Creek stopped Clark Fork on their next two possessions, and repeated their performance on offense with two more Manley TDs. His second score came from 14 yards out at 7:41 and the third at 3:18 from the 22. The left the Titans in full command of the game 22-0 at the end of the first period.
By halftime the locals had put Manley into position to get his final two scores and take a 36-0 lead into the locker room.
With the game in their control, Coach Cutler started utilizing his son sophomore Kade Cutler more to see where he stood offensively. He responded with a 14-yard touchdown throw to Lee in the third and a 27-yard strike to Daniel Brabender in the fourth.
"He did well, but he's still not near where he needs to be," Coach Cutler observed. "He was extremely nervous today and his dad put a little bit of pressure on him, so I gotta back that down a little bit. But he threw a nice strike down here for that last touchdown and threw a strike on that first play of the game and Jaxon just didn't come down with it.
"He's just gotta settle down. He's not looking at the routes long enough and he's hearing footsteps and tucking it before he needs to. I'm happy of course, but we have a lot of work to do."
Clark Fork managed a pair of touchdowns in the second half, the one in the third temporarily stopping the running clock. Their use of a 2-minute-drill style offense with short passes underneath caught the Titans off guard temporarily, but it was never enough to overcome the gap in the overall score.
Flint Creek will be back on the road again Friday for their Week 2 matchup at Troy, which lies about a 5-1/2 bus ride north from Granite County. The site of that game could change if the wildfire situation in the northwest part of the state creates unhealthful air in the area. Game time is now set for 5 p.m.
Flint Creek - 22/14/6/8 - 50
Clark Fork - 0/0/8/8 - 16
Q1 - 9:00 - FC Manley rush 16 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 8-0 Flint Creek
Q1 - 7:41 - FC Manley rush 14 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 16-0 Flint Creek
Q1 - 3:18 - FC Manley rush 22 yds (TD), Conversion Failed, 22-0 Flint Creek
Q2 - 6:50 - FC Manley rush 12 yds (TD), Conversion Failed, 28-0 Flint Creek
Q2 - 4:54 - FC Manley rush 13 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 36-0 Flint Creek
Q3 - 7:41 FC Cutler pass to Lee 14 yds (TD), Conversion Fail, 42-0 Flint Creek
Q3 - 1:09 CF Mask pass to Francis 13 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 42-8 Flint Creek
Q4 - 4:16 FC Cutler pass to Brabender27 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 50-8 Flint Creek
Q$ - 0:58 CF Mask pass to Kovolsky 3 yds (TD), Conversion Good, 50-16 Flint Creek