DRUMMOND – Football may have been the reason that Darby traveled to Flint Creek Friday, but what took place on the Tigers first series is what made the game great.
The Titans claimed a 44-0 win over visiting Darby Friday night, improving to 7-0 on the year and staying atop the Class C 8-Man Football standings.
On the Tigers’ opening series they took a delay of game penalty with attempting to snap the ball. On first and 15, Flint Creek jumped off side. Both were intentional acts by the coaches.
The intent was to honor former Darby player Jake “Sunshine” Sanders who is fighting lymphoma cancer. Sanders flew home from Texas late Thursday night to spend his final days back in Montana, a state he has grown to love since moving here 11 years ago.
The two head coaches – Darby’s Jeff Snavely and Flint Creek’s Mike Cutler – had agree beforehand what would happen. Snavely had called Cutler prior to the game to let him and the Titans know how the Tigers planned to honor their fallen comrade. In turn, Cutler responded that not only was it OK but that his team wanted to be part of the process. That culminated in Flint Creek wearing the same fluorescent green tape that Darby did, a color used to show support for those battle lymphoma cancer.
“Jake was a big part of Darby football,” said Snavely. “He was a well behaved, polite young man who always had a heart for this team win or lose.
“It’s huge,” continued Snavely, speaking of the efforts by the Titan coaches and players. “It means a lot to our boys, I know that. Means a lot to our coaching staff. When I called Cutler at the beginning of the week to tell him what we were gonna do on his home field, but I wanted to let him know there was no disrespect to him or his players. He called me back the next day and said we want to do something too.”
That something was wearing the lymphoma colors and making sure that the Tiger tribute didn’t cost them a down.
Once the two plays had been run, the two teams immediately came to the center of the field and exchanged hugs and handshakes.
Then it was on to football.
The Titans stopped Darby on its first series and then took over, doing what it does best – scoring.
Flint worked the ball down to the Tiger 11 where senior Colby Manley punched it in for a score. He added the conversion run and gave the Titans an 8-0 lead.
I was another seven minutes before Flint Creek would find its way back into the end zone, this time on a seven-yard pass from Kade Cutler to Jaxon Lee. Cutler hit Luke Holland with the conversion and made it a 16-0 advantage.
But after the kickoff, Darby found itself deep in its own territory. That’s when Titan defensive lineman Riley Allen got into the backfield and stripped the ball from the Tiger QB and rambled 18 yards for the final score of the half and a 22-0 lead.
The Titans added 22 more points over the next two periods. Cutler hit Manley on a one-yard pass in the second, and hit Daniel Brabender on a 50-yard scoring toss in the third.
Lee opened the second half with a 73-yard kickoff return for a score.
“We concentrated on when they went to their spread, we were gonna play some man coverage and send some more guys after the ball,” said Flint Creek Defensive Coordinator J.C. Holland. “That was one of our focuses this week.
“And then another one was covering those out patterns that we saw against Arlee last week.”
The work in practice paid off as the Tigers were never able to mount much an offense, either on the ground or in the air.
Flint Creek will play its final home game of the regular season October 12 when they host the Mission Bulldogs in Philipsburg. The game will also mark Senior Night for players Riley Allen, Luke Holland, Kane Hess and Colby Manley.
Darby – 0/0/0/0 – 0
Flint Creek – 22/6/16/0 – 44
9:41 FC Manley 11-yard run TD. Manley conversion run. FC 8-0
2:05 FC Cutler to Lee 7 yd pass TD. Cutler to Holland conversion pass. FC 16-0
1:46 FC Allen 18-yard fumble recovery TD. Conversion pass failed. FC 22-0
10:12 FC Cutler to Manley 1 yd pass TD. Conversion run failed. FC 28-0
11:46 FC Lee 73 yd kickoff return TD. Cutler conversion run. FC 36-0
6:39 FC Cutler to Brabender 50 yd pass TD. Huberg conversion run. FC 44-0