GRANITE COUNTY – When the Flint Creek Titans enter the 2019 postseason, they will no longer be the favorites. In fact, they go in as one of the under dogs.
Having been the team to beat the last two seasons, it will be a different challenge for sure. But it is one they are more than willing to accept.
Flint Creek (6-3, No. 4 West) travels to West Yellowstone (9-0, No. 1 South) Saturday to take on the Wolverines in the first round of the Montana High School Association’s 8-Man Football Playoffs. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
West Yellowstone is experiencing tremendous success after moving up from the 6-man game last year. While the Titans were posting back-to-back perfect seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Wolverines posted twin 9-2 seasons the lower division and exiting the playoffs in the second round both years.
“They’re running offensive sets that we haven’t seen all year,” said Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler of the Wolverine offense. “Some of it’s a carryover from their 6-man days and they’ve done a great job of incorporating that into the 8-man game, so it’s a whole different deal for us.
“We’ve seen teams that spread the field and stuff, but they have a balanced attack. They have good running backs and formations that we’ve got to adjust to.”
Senior Mac Hauck quarterbacks West Yellowstone. According to West Yellowstone Defensive Coach Jeff Maxwell (a former Canadian Football League QB as a member of the Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts in 2017), Hauck is, “… one of the best QBs in the state. He’s smart, accurate and makes good decisions. He can easily play at the next level if he wants to.”
Hauck is flanked in the backfield by senior running back Miguel Salinas, who collected his third straight 1,000 yard season. According to Maxwell, Salinas is a runner that likes to go over people but that has surprising speed.
The Titans have their own offensive weapons, with junior QB Kade Cutler. Throughout the season the second-year play caller has shown he can get the job done either on the ground or in the air. When he goes up top, Cutler has a variety of targets to throw at including tight end Daniel Brabender.
Flint Creek fills the running back spot by committee, with Preston Metesh, Avery Metesh, Leyton Wagner and Andrew Tallon combining to give the locals a unique look on every play.
One area where the Titans always seem to be at a disadvantage is team size and Saturday will be no different. The Wolverines are bigger overall, but since they will only suit up 13 for the game every man will count.
“They aren’t really big. So in that respect we match up pretty well,” observed Cutler.
NOTES – Flint Creek has won its last eight straight playoff games, dating back through the 2017 and 2018 seasons. … West Yellowstone is 2-2 over that same stretch playing in the 6-man ranks. … The Wolverines have gone 9-2 each of the first two seasons under head coach Jeff Matthews. A win over Flint Creek Saturday would give them their best season thus far under his tenure. … West Yellowstone will be missing two players off its roster due to injury in senior Jake Mann and freshman Logan Kingston. The Titans will be without Tucker Weaver who has been listed as out for the season after his injury in Flint Creek’s win over Darby in Week 7.