GRANITE COUNTY – When Flint Creek visits Darby Friday night it will be a big game for both clubs. Both are standing at 3-2 with just three games left in the season, the winner remains alive for the postseason hunt while the loser looks to close out the year.
But before we get to the teams let’s look at the game day vitals…
The Titans have won four of the five games the two teams have played since 2014, including last year’s emotional contest in Drummond as the Tigers were honoring teammate Jake “Sunshine” Sanders. (See Notes below for more info). And while the locals have typically had the upper hand, 2019 may be the first time the two are truly on equal footing.
“Arlee wanted to throw the ball too, but these guys they’re probably going to throw it 65% of the time,” observed Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler Wednesday. “They’ve got a quarterback with a big strong arm.
Nelson Smith is that QB for Darby. While Tiger Head Coach Jeff Snavely estimates they are a more balanced team offensively (going about 50/50 run to pass) the aerial show that Smith is capable of appears daunting. He is 65-for-101 on the year for a 64% completion rate, collecting 947 yards and 17 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
That will put pressure on the Titan coverage players in Kade Cutler, Preston Metesh, Leyton Wagner and Daniel Brabender. But it’s pressure that Coach Cutler thinks they can manage.
“We’ll try to create matchups that are favorable for us on offense, and we’ll do the same on defense,” said Cutler.
In looking at what the Titans might throw at them, Snavely stated it won’t be much out of the ordinary.
“We’re just going to run our game plan, nothing special. It’s what Cutler’s been seeing on film. We’re just going about our game plan and hoping we have better athletes than he does.”
For Flint Creek the road has not been kind this year. They are 1-2 on the road and have trailed in every game except their win over Troy. Cutler noted that he has talked to his team about getting mentally prepared for the start of games. There’s only so much a coach can do for his players internally and so it will be up to the Titans to get the ball rolling early against the Tigers.
No matter what the outlook for Friday’s game, it’s clear that Snavely has a great deal of respect for Cutler and the Flint Creek program.
“He’s got some great athletes. Mike Cutler will go down, just as the other coach from there (Jim Oberweiser), as one of the great Montana 8-man coaches. Something I like about him is he’s a no b***s*** coach. He’s going to follow his game plan and he doesn’t care who you are.”
NOTES – Flint Creek’s win over Arlee last week was a scheduled non-conference game, despite it being played between two Western Conference teams. Week six was a scheduled bye week for both the Warriors and the Titans, but the two decided that rather than sit idle that they would play each other anyway. The game does not count against the conference standings, but could be considered if either team was to be tied with each other or tied with another team and scores against common opponents were to be compared. … During the 2018 contest between Flint Creek and Darby, the Tigers were honoring fallen teammate Jake “Sunshine” Sanders. Sanders was suffering from lymphoma cancer and was returning to Montana to spend the final days of his life. The Titans and Tigers worked together to honor Sanders’ memory at the start of the game, with Sunshine passing away October, 10, 2018. … The game in Darby Friday, followed by next week’s game at Mission, will mark the only time all season that Flint Creek will play back-to-back games on the road all season. They finish the regular season against Victor in Drummond for Senior Night.