SUPERIOR – Friday night’s season opening loss by the Titans could have been chalked to any number of things that can beleaguer a high school football team. But Head Coach Mike Cutler summed it up in one succinct sentence.
“The better team won.”
Those were the only words that Cutler offered after a 74-42 loss to the Mountain Cats of Clark Fork.
The game started with Clark Fork the receiving the kickoff and quickly finding the end zone when QB Bryan Mask hit Kyler Francis with a scoring strike. The Cats converted the point after and led 8-0.
Flint Creek appeared to get a big break on the ensuing kickoff when Kade Cutler fumbled the ball, only to have it recovered by teammate Preston Metesh. Metesh somehow got the ball back to Cutler as he was tackled, but the play was called dead by the officials even though Cutler was some 20 yards away from the play.
The Titans failed on their first drive, giving Clark Fork a chance to extend their lead. The Cats used a few minutes and once again had Mask finding Trey Green on a 12-yard route for the score to lead 14-0.
Cutler and Metesh linked up again on their next possession, as the former hit the latter with a 27-yard scoring pass to close the gap to 14-8.
In the huddle following the score, Coach Cutler could be heard telling his players, “You’re right back in this. I need some of you to grow up a little bit right now guys. You can get this.”
The score stayed that way until early in the second when Mask scampered 14 yards through the line and a few missed tackles for a score and a 20-8 advantage.
Cutler got the locals as close they would be all day when he returned the following kickoff 61 yards for the score to trail 20-14.
But over the next two minutes Clark Fork added two more scores on TD passes by Mask that ballooned the lead to 32-14.
The Cutler-Metesh connection paid off again with 2:32 to play in the half when it resulted in a 45-yard scoring pass. That left Flint Creek with a 32-20 deficit and what appeared to be the momentum heading into the locker room.
But the Mountain Cats weren’t done yet.
Clark Fork’s Mask tossed two more scores to Green and Isaiah Kovalsky that shifted the game back in favor of the hosts and gave them a commanding 44-20 lead at the break.
“Focus on 1-0,” said Cats Head Coach Jeff Schultz after the game. “I feel like we have a chance to be a good team and it was all about who was going to be able to handle the other’s best punch. They came out swinging, we came out swinging and we just had to outlast their punches.
“We’ve talked about that all year, about being 1-0. Not just in the game but on every play.”
Late in the second quarter Flint Creek lost senior DB/FB Conley Wagner to a foot injury. He was unable to return and the extent of that injury is yet to be determined.
Leyton Wagner and Cutler added rushing TDs for the Titans in the second half, as well as a 41-yard score from Cutler to Daniel Brabender later in the third. But they were out-paced by Clark Fork who scored on another Mask socring poass and two rushing scores from Trey Green.
The Mountain Cats (1-0) will play at St. Ignatius Sept. 6 while the Titans will take on the Troy Trojans in their home opener in Philipsburg.
NOTES – The loss snaps a 25-game win streak by the Titans dating back to Week 1 of the 2017 season. That streak leaves them tied 13th all-time in Montana football with Baker (2001-2002). … Friday’s game was the sixth time that the two teams have meet since 2014, and is the first time the Mountain Cats have claimed a win. Flint Creek leads the series 5-1. … Friday’s 74 points by Clark Fork is the most ever allowed in the six-year history of the Titans. The previous mark was set by Charlo in 2015, a home loss by Flint Creek that ended 62-55. … The Week 1 loss is also the first in Flint Creek history.
Scoring – Q1/Q2/Q3/Q4 – F
Flint Creek – 8/12/14/8 – 42
Clark Fork – 20/32/8/14 – 74
CF / 11:10 – Mask to Francis TD pass. Conversion good.
CF / 5:42 – Mask to Green TD pass. Conversion failed.
FC / 3:38 – Cutler to PMetesh TD Pass. Conversion good.
CF / 8:27 – Mask 14 yard TD run. Conversion failed.
FC / 8:15 – Cutler 61 yard TD kickoff return. Conversion failed.
CF / 7:26 – Mask to Kovalsky TD pass. Conversion failed.
CF / 5:46 – Mask to Francis TD pass. Conversion failed.
CF / 2:42 – Mask to Green TD pass. Conversion failed.
FC / 2:37 – Cutler to PMetesh TD pass. Conversion failed.
CF / 0:00 – Mask to Kovalsky TD pass. Conversion good.
FC / 6:25 – LWagner TD run. Conversion good.
CF / 3:59 – Mask to Kovalsky TD pass. Conversion good.
FC / 2:55 – Cutler to Brabender TD pass. Conversion failed.
FC / 11:24 – Cutler TD run. Conversion good.
CF / 1-:50 – Green TD run. Conversion failed.
CF / 7:42 – Green TD run. Conversion good.