FB - 8-Man State Championship Notebook
GRANITE COUNTY – With the Titans making their third appearance in the championship game in four years, the whole of Granite County is on edge for it's boys in black. Here’s a look at some of the stats, stories and background facts of Saturday’s championship tilt.
Best of the Best
As one would hope and expect, the Flint Creek Titans and Scobey Spartans are the top two teams remaining in the Montana High School Association’s 8-Man Football Playoffs. They remain as the only two teams with double-digit wins, with Flint Creek a perfect 11-0 and Scobey 10-1.
Based on its own formula, the website MaxPreps.com currently ranks the Titans as #8 nationally after moving up 10 spots with its semifinal win over Fort Benton. The Spartans check in at #72.
The MaxPreps rankings are for all of 6, 8, and 9-man football.
And the Thunder Rolls!
If not for a last second touchdown by MonDak in their season opener, the Spartans would also be unbeaten entering the championship game Saturday.
According to Scobey Head Coach Brock Berryhill, the Thunder had lined up for a game-winning field goal with a few seconds on the clock as MonDak and Scobey were deadlocked 22-22 in their season opener August 28th. The Thunder missed the kick, but a Spartan player was called for roughing the kicker, giving MonDak one last shot from 15 yards closer.
But instead of the kick, the Thunder faked the attempt and got the ball into the end zone as time expired for the 28-22 victory.
Scobey has won 10 straight since.
Programmed for Success
Coaches Mike Cutler (Flint Creek) and Berryhill (Scobey) have built successful programs that produce results.
Cutler took over the Titans with co-head coach JC Holland in 2017 after sharing the duties with Jim Oberweiser from 2014-2016. During the program’s first three years Flint Creek was 18-10 with three first-round playoff appearances. When Cutler and Holland took over in 2017, the Titans hit the gas pedal going 43-4 through last weekend’s semifinal win. That stretch included perfect seasons of 12-0 (2017) and 13-0 (2018) and a stretch of 25 consecutive wins that ended with a loss to Clark Fork to open the 2019 campaign.
Under Berryhill Scobey has been on a steady build up over the last five seasons with a combined record of 34-16. The Spartans were eliminated in the first round in 2016, 2017 and 2019, reaching the quarterfinals in 2018 and the finals this year.
No Place Like Home
Flint Creek will try and keep the tradition of winning on its home turf alive against Scobey, with Granite County teams having claimed victory in three previous championship outings.
The Titans beat Forsyth at George Mungus Field in 2017, becoming the first-ever co-op team to claim the 8-man title. They repeated the feat in 2018, but did so on the neutral field of Naranche Stadium in Butte. The game was to be part of a neutral site swap from year to year, with 2019 being played at Rocky Mountain College between Fairview and Clark Fork.
The MHSA has since discontinued this practice as per a vote of the member schools.
Prior to that, the Drummond Trojans won five titles in seven years, but only played at home twice. They defeated Big Sandy in 2003 and Park City in 2005. Their other three championships were won on the road.
Lucky Number 8?
They say that the number seven is lucky and Granite County football teams have proven that since 2003. With Drummond’s five titles and Flint Creek’s two, area teams are a perfect 7-for-7 in 8-man championship games in that time span. Saturday they will try and make it a great eight.
The Granite Prospectors are the only team to have fallen in a home title match up in 1979 to Richey, 56-25.
The One Ring
Four of the six seniors on Flint Creek will try to join an elite Granite County club Saturday. Should the Titans win Kade Cutler, Mason Graeff, Preston Metesh and Tucker Weaver will have all earned their third championship ring.
During Drummond’s dominance in the early 2000s, 17 players earned three rings each as members of those football teams. Eight of those players were also members of the 2005 State Track and Field Champion Boys Team, making them the only athletes in Granite County with four team titles.
Unlike his present teammates, should the Titans win Saturday Graeff could make the same claim that the Drummond players did by winning them in three consecutive seasons. Graeff played in 2017 and 2018, but took the 2019 season off before rejoining the roster in 2020.
Putting some Rings on it
Flint Creek Co-Head Coach JC Holland could earn his eighth piece of title jewelry with a win Saturday. He’s previously earned five with Drummond and two at Flint Creek. According to the Montana Coach’s Hall of Fame, the only man that has more is Class AA CM Russell Coach Jack Johnson who claimed 13 championships in a 41-year career.
Class AA is arguably the smallest division in the Treasure State while Class C is the largest, so advantage Holland.
Comin’ Around Again
The Scobey Spartans are trying to snap a 17-year title drought, not having claimed the top prize since 2002. Prior to that the Spartans grabbed the brass ring in 1995, 1996 and 2002. They were runners up in 1989 and 2001.
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, Flint’s Creek’s coaching dynamic duo of Cutler and Holland will step away from the sidelines. The two are lifelong friends and have coached together for the last four years as head of the Titans. The tandem has been with the Flint Creek co-op since its inception in 2014.Cutler’s son Kade will graduate in June and has already committed to Montana State University. Holland’s sons Brad and Luke also played for Flint Creek graduating in 2016 and 2019, respectively.
NOTE - Edits made for accuracy in Granite County championship games and the tenure of Cutler and Holland at Flint Creek.