FB Preview: Spartans, Titans set to battle for 8-Man Title Saturday
DRUMMOND – The mascots of Scobey and Flint Creek may hail from Greek mythology, but Saturday’s game will be all about a season-long quest on par with the Epic of Gilgamesh.
When the Spartans and Titans kickoff Saturday in the Montana High School Association’s 8-Man Football Championship, it will be a meeting of the two best teams left in the playoffs. Scobey comes to Drummond at 10-1 while Flint Creek is a perfect 11-0.
But before digging into the X’s and O’s of this contest, here are the particulars of the day…
Scobey Spartans at Flint Creek Titans
MHSA Class C 8-Man Football Championship
Drummond High School / Drummond, Montana
Saturday, November 21, 2020 @ 1 p.m.
Scobey comes in as the No. 1 team out of the east, having worked its way through the playoff bracket by beating Cascade (50-0), Thompson Falls (40-24) and Shelby (44-28). The lone blemish on their 2020 record came in a season-opening loss to MonDak on the last play of the game.
Flint Creek has been all in all year, easily beating teams in the West before heading into the postseason where they defeated Belt (60-14), Fairview (48-6) and Fort Benton (48-18).
No team has scored more or given up less this year than the Titans who average scoring 55.6 points per game on offense and allow just 6.4. The latter is the result of a starting squad that did not allow a touchdown from the first drive of the first game of the season (St. Ignatius) until Belt found the end zone in opening round of the postseason.
Scobey has been only slightly less prolific, scoring 46.9 PPG while allowing 14.0.
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While both teams want to run the ball first, the Spartans’ stats show they are a 50-50 split between that and the pass. When the ball goes in the air it’s thrown by senior quarterback Jayce Tande, who has completed 116-of-207 attempts for 1,697 yards and 38 touchdowns.
“(He’s) like a little Fran Tarkenton running around out there,” said Scobey Head Coach Brock Berryhill of his QB. “While we want to run the ball first, our wide outs make us real tough to match up with. They are some pretty talented guys.”
Tande’s trio of targets include Addison Stentoft (30 rec., 7 TD), Parker Cromwell (33 rec., 12 TD) and his favorite Caden Handran (34 rec., 13 TD).
“Their QB, we haven’t seen anyone like him,” observed Flint Creek Head Coach Mike Cutler. “We’ve seen parts of him in other games. For example the kid from Ft. Benton has the speed and the kid from Fairview is squirrely like this kid. Put them together and you’ve got their quarterback. He’s the QB that would rather scramble around for 10 minutes and then throw it rather than just tuck it up and run.”
When Tande is forced to tuck it and run, he’s been moderately successful gaining 489 yards on 92 carries.
Cutler continued, “Against Shelby he (Tande) had four to six seconds and made plays way down the field. You can’t rely on your coverage for that long.”
The Titan coach expressed that while his defensive backs may be smaller on the edges, they are a bit faster to compensate.
For Flint Creek, they are a 68-32 run-pass team, with senior QB Kade Cutler leading the charge. Cutler, who has already committed to Montana State University for next season, leads in both passing and rushing yardage. In the air he has completed 54-of-78 (69.2%) for 913 yards and 15 TDs. While junior Avery Metesh is Cutler’s favorite target (22 rec. 5 TDs) its senior Ethan Parke that has made the most of each catch. In making 14 receptions he has collected 411 yards for 29.4 yards each.
On the ground, Cutler shares the load with senior running back Preston Metesh. The latter has carried the ball 121 times for 748 yards and 21 TDs, gaining the bulk of those in the Titans’ three playoff games.
But it’s Cutler that has seen an uptick in his carries. Through the end of the regular season he had carried the ball just 66 times. Toss in the three postseason games and he now has 128, almost double his previous efforts.
“Yeah, we don’t see a lot of that (Veer offense),” said Berryhill of the Titan play caller. “I guess because it’s not cool or something. (laugh) I admire them for running because it’s a tough one (to teach). And when you’ve got a guy like Kade Cutler … I mean, I’m a Cats guy. I’m happy for the Cats but I’m not happy for us. That guy’s an animal.”
The game will mean a lot to the winner and not only because a title lies in the balance. Scobey is looking to snap an 18-year streak without claiming the game’s top prize or even playing for it since 2002. Flint Creek will be trying to send the coaching tandem of Mike Cutler and JC Holland out on a high note, claiming their third championship in four years as they both step back from the sidelines.