New Titan QB ready to step into a title defense
PHILIPSBURG - Cutler.
Say that name after the 2017 football season and everyone thinks of the coach of the Flint Creek Titans.
But when 2018 opens play for the local co-op team Saturday against Clark Fork, Cutler will also be the answer to the question, "Who's the new quarterback for our guys?"
"(There's) a little bit of pressure," said Kade Cutler, sophomore QB for the Titans. "I'm confident in myself and my team and I think we're going to do pretty well."
Cutler follows last year's Class C Western Division Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year in Colton Grange. Reciting his stats seems redundant, so let's just say he had one heck of a year. But for Cutler, the experience of playing day-in and day-out against the best team in the state was invaluable.
"(Its) a little different being with the state champs instead of playing against them, that's for sure," he reflected. "Totally different atmosphere playing with them.
"It was a year working against state champs all the time and it was definitely important to me because I got experience working against them. I got better every day going against Colton, Colby (Manley) and all of them."
Cutler was set to attend a number of football and quarterback camps over the summer, but was hampered when he broke his thumb June 2 while playing around with some younger kids before the Bob Cleverley All-Star Game in Butte. Cutler wasn't playing, but was there with his dad and several of his teammates to see graduated seniors Grange and Andrew Gomez play.
The injury lasted a total of 10 weeks - six in a cast and two before and after wearing a splint. Cutler noted that the injury tore the tendon so bad is pulled the growth plate off the bone.
Kade indicated that the relationship with his dad is pretty separated, with Mike being a coach at practice and a dad at home. But not to anyone's surprise, Mike didn't see it quite the same way.
"That kid is coached seven days a week," laughed his dad. "That's been the way it is since he could walk and was around my football practices. He's absorbed so much football. His knowledge of the game is very high for a sophomore. But he's only a sophomore and he's only had a few downs of varsity football.
"He's nowhere near where we want him to be, so we don't have any idea what' we've got with him until these games start to play out. I have a feeling he's going to do very well and I expect him to do well. But we're not asking any player to win a football game. We're asking them to do their part in our system."
In limited action last year, Cutler was 8-for-33 for 129 yards. He had three touchdowns against two interceptions.
But despite the lack of play last year and the downtime this summer, Cutler's teammates think he's ready to handle the job.
Junior Jaxon Lee, who was by far Grange's favorite target in 2017 (54 Rec., 22 TDs, 1,101 Yds.) is now being touted as one of the most lethal weapons in Class C. And having played with Grange and practiced with Cutler, Lee thinks the latter is right on track.
"We can already call audibles going into week one," reflected Lee of his new signal caller. "He just seems to be more aggressive about it.
"I think Kade will run a fine line (between pass and run). I think he'll be a Tim Tebow or Johnny Manziel type player. He'll be a pocket passer, but if he needs to get out, he'll get out and run."
The quartet of seniors that now lead the Titans - Riley Allen, Kane Hess, Luke Holland and Colby Manley - agree with Lee that Cutler is ready to take on the challenges of being the QB for the defending state champions.
"I Think he has surprised everyone," said Holland. "I think we knew he was going to do well, but I don't think anyone expected him to excel like he has."
When asked about his goals for the coming season, Cutler seemed very businesslike in his approach.
"Get the ball to Colby and let him bruise up the defense like he does. Get the ball to Jaxon because he tears up everyone too. Do my job, take my opportunities when I have them and no turnovers."
Cutler, Cutler and Company will get their first crack at executing those goals and many more Saturday at Butte's Naranchae Stadium at 3 p.m.