PHILIPSBURG – You can almost hear Admiral Ackbar screaming, “It’s a trap!”
The 3-2 Titans host the 1-4 Warriors of Arlee Friday night in their Homecoming game and with their playoff hopes on the line. But before we break down the teams, let’s look at the game particulars…
Playing a team that is in an apparent down cycle is always a tough game, more from a mental standpoint rather than physical. It’s easy to look past them and therein lays the trap. While the Titans were hurt by the loss five starters on both sides of the ball after 2018, Arlee was decimated. The Warriors lost seven seniors that accounted for 15 of the starting positions between offense and defense.
Despite what the appearances may be, Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler doesn’t see a potential bobby trap in facing Arlee.
“I don’t think our kids or the coaches are looking past them. We’ve only won three games and Arlee has always played us tough,” stated Cutler. “In the last two games they have started running a lot of the same stuff Thompson Falls is. So the problem is the same thing we faced last week.”
Last week the Titans lost 64-24 to a senior heavy Blue Hawk squad on the road. But because of the way Flint Creek goes through practices each week, playing the Warriors this week could not have been better timed.
“We look at fixing things from the last opponent more than we do preparing for the upcoming one,” observed Cutler. “When athletes can see on video (and the video doesn’t lie) they can see those mistakes and they can own it.
“Our guys never quit, never stopped fighting. I wouldn’t trade my guys for anyone, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. If you watch (that game) our guys fought the entire time. That’s all I care about.”
Cutler’s observations are born out on a comparison of the two team’s rosters. Arlee has seven players that outweigh Flint’s Creek’s biggest player (Daniel Brabender) at 187 pounds. Three of those players are in excess of 230 pounds, with senior lineman Jon Matt tipping the scales at 255.
For the Warriors it has been a year of transition, losing seven starters on offense and six on defense to graduation. They have another six seniors on this year’s team, foreshadowing a similar season in 2020.
“(We’ve) been trying to prepare and go in with the mindset that we can win every game,” said third-year coach Chuck Forgey, “but we’re doing a lot of learning on the go, a lot of kids learning under the gun. But the boy’s effort has been great.
“Every week we’re going in and trying to get a little better than we were the week before. A lot of our errors are unfortunately the kind you have to learn in the game.”
Both teams enter the game about as healthy as can be expected. Arlee is suffering from no major setbacks while Flint Creek will regain the services of lineman Destin Linn.
And while the Titans are focused on fixing what they do and how they do it, the Warriors know that to be in the game with this opponent that they have to prevent Flint Creek from getting their potent offense in gear.
“We’ve gotta stop Kade (Cutler) and that Veer offense,” remarked Forgey. “If we can’t force them into something else it’s going to be a long night. Some of the things that Mike (Cutler) has done over the years like the seam passes and what not, his bread and butter, and we’ve worked on trying to take away the best we can.”
The two teams have met four times in the past six years, with each team winning twice. The Titans claimed the victory in last year’s game played in Arlee, 36-14.