Titans claim second straight 8-man state title
BUTTE – Had renowned comic book artist Stan Lee ever created a football super hero, he just might have named him Jaxon.
Titan junior Jaxon Lee, filling in for injured senior tailback Colby Manley, scored four touchdowns and had three interceptions to lead the Flint Creek Titans to a 50-14 win over Great Falls Central Catholic Saturday in the MHSA Class C 8-Man Football Championship Game. The title is second in a row for the Titans and the win gives Flint Creek 25 in a row over the past two seasons.
Great Falls took their first possession after the kickoff and methodically drove it down into the red zone. But Mustang quarterback Noah Ambuehl was unable to find Ethan Vincent in the corner of the end zone on fourth down and the ball turned over to Flint Creek.
With just over seven minutes left in the opening period, the Titans went to work on their own drive. With 46 seconds to play in the period, Lee got lose for a 42-yard run and the first of four scores on the day. He chipped in the conversion as well and gave Flint Creek an 8-0 lead.
But Great Falls didn’t reach its first-ever championship game by backing down, and they didn’t disappoint. On their first-play after kickoff, Riley Dickinson hit Luke Marmom with a 60-yard scoring play. Logan Warren added the extra point kick and the Mustangs trailed 8-7.
Unfortunately for Great Falls and its fans, that’s as close as it would ever get.
Lee was it again for Flint Creek on the following kickoff, returning the ball 60 yards and setting up at 17-yard TD pass from Kade Cutler to Daniel Brabender. Lee added the conversion and the Titans expanded their lead to 16-7.
Great Falls next possession only lasted a few plays before a deep pass was intercepted by Lee, his first of three on the day. Three-and-a-half minutes later Lee was running the ball in from 17-yards out for a 22-7 Flint Creek lead.
“Our deal is that we’re going to be as aggressive as we can on offense,” Titan Head Coach Mike Cutler said. “If points come with it, good. That’s what we’re going to do and we’re not going to take the foot off the gas.”
Great Falls answered on its next possession, finishing the drive with a 27-yard scoring pass from Armbuehl to Drew Newman. That TD closed the score to 22-14.
But as they’ve done all year, once the Titans decipher the opponent’s defense, they tear it open like a kid on Christmas morning.
Flint Creek finished the half with 61-yard scoring run by Cutler on the second play of its next drive to lead 28-14 at the break.
The second half was all Flint Creek, with Lee and Manley posting scoring runs of 27 and one yards, respectively, in the third. In the fourth Cutler hit Lee with his second passing TD of the game and Lee’s fourth overall.
Lee finished with 246 yards on the day, doubling his season output to a total of 486. His 18 carries gave him a total of 32 on the year with five total touchdowns.
“This one is as special as the one last year so that’s how we look at it,” Cutler said. “We’re awfully proud of our Flint Creek communities, Drummond and Philipsburg, our crowd is fantastic and here we are champions again.”
For the Mustangs it was a bitter pill to swallow. After finally getting past the quarterfinals for the first time in its 8-man existence, Great Falls stumbled and lost to the Titans.
“It’s rough, but someone had to win tonight and someone had to lose,” said Mustang head coach Greg Horton. “Unfortunately we’re the ones that had to lose. I don’t really know what to say other than I’m very proud of my boys.”
For 14 of the Titans, this was their second straight title. Among them was lineman Wyatt Rigby.
“It’s awesome,” observed the junior postgame. “It’s so cool playing with these kids and with these coaches. It’s unbelievable! We started here in Butte and getting to finish here in Butte is just one of the greatest feelings.”
NOTES – Great Falls Central Catholic finishes the year at 9-2, having only lost to the #1 (Titans) and #2 (Shelby Coyotes). … Flint Creek’s 25-game win streak now places them in a tie for 13th all-time in Montana football with Baker (2001-2002). … The Titans finish the season having scored 714 total points, placing them third all-time behind Fairview (742) and Wibaux (728). … Flint Creek finished with a scoring average of 54.9 points per game (PPG). That mark places them fourth all-time in 8-man football behind Charlo (68.7), Fairview (61.8) and Wibaux (60.7). … When adding Cutler and Lee’s four rushing TDs on the day to the team’s total the Titans finish with 52, placing them 8th all-time.
Flint Creek 8/20/16/6 – 50
Great Falls CC 0/14/0/0 – 14
0:46 – FC – 8-0 – Lee 42-yard run TD, Lee conversion run.
11:51 – GF – 8-7 – Ambuehl 59-yard pass to Marmom TD. Warren kick.
10:51 – FC – 16-7 – Cutler to Brabender 17-yard pass TD. Lee conversion run.
5:57 – FC – 22-7 – Lee 17-yard run TD. Conversion failed.
4:05 – GF – 22-14 – Ambuehl 27-yard pass to Newman. Warren kick.
3:16 – FC – 28-14 – Cutler 61-yard run TD. Conversion failed.
8:22 – FC – 36-14 – Lee 27-yard run TD. Lee conversion run.
1:27 – FC – 44-14 – Manley 1-yard run TD. Lee conversion run.
11:10 – FC – 50-14 – Cutler to Lee 5-yard pass TD. Conversion failed.