Titans, Mustangs get déjà vu in playoff rematch
GRANITE COUNTY – Be careful what you ask for. You might just get it.
With the Great Falls Central Mustangs (7-2) beating Ekalaka last weekend 41-18 and the Titans (7-3) slipping past West Yellowstone 46-40 in double overtime, a rematch of last year’s 8-man football final was set for the quarterfinals Saturday.
After defeating the Bulldogs in their opener, members of the Great Falls Central program were already hoping to get another shot at Flint Creek.
“They called us out a little bit in the Great Falls Tribune and on the Internet,” said Titan Head Coach Mike Cutler. “They wanted Flint Creek so they’re gonna get Flint Creek.”
According to the Great Falls Tribune, Mustangs running back Jackson Malsam voiced his choice of second-round opponents. "I'd rather play Flint Creek. We played them in the championship and lost to them, so it would be nice to play them again."
Likewise, GFCC activities director Jamie Smith Stevens told Tribune reporter Lee Vernoy, "You'd better get a hold of (FC head coach Mike) Cutler and tell him to get it in gear, 'cause I don't want to go to West Yellowstone!"
The No. 4 Titans obliged with a dramatic win over West Yellowstone on the road, beating the South’s No. 1 squad.
“They were a very good football team, no doubt. But it also gave them the confidence that we can beat Great Falls Central,” added Cutler.
In the 2018 title game, Flint Creek ran away from Great Falls in a commanding 50-14 victory that secured the Titans’ 25th straight win and its second, consecutive undefeated 8-man state title. But both teams are vastly different a year removed from that contest.
Flint Creek had four seniors in that title run, returning three for this year. The Titans lost Conley Wagner in their opener against Clark Fork, leaving Wyatt Rigby and Daniel Brabender to provide the senior leadership on the field.
The Mustangs sported eight seniors in 2018 and have 11 on this year’s roster. They are led by Shane Girres at quarterback and Jackson Maslam at running back.
Coach Greg Horton could not be reached for comment or statistics.
“We don’t necessarily look at it differently than any other game,” added Cutler about the rematch of the two teams. “It’s kind of like playing another team in our league. It’s a quarterfinal game and our kids are really excited about it.
All things offense stem from Kade Cutler for Flint Creek. Whether running or throwing, the junior play caller has proven that he is capable of using a variety of weapons to advance the ball and get it over the goal line. Among those offensive options are running backs Preston Metesh and Leyton Wagner and receivers Daniel Brabender and Avery Metesh.
"The key for us will be to neutralize the line of scrimmage," observed Cutler. "We have to control that on both sides of the ball."
That task will be a tough one for Flint Creek, but will be nothing new. The Mustang line will outweigh the Titans by about 30 pounds per player.
The winner of the Flint Creek-Great Falls game will advance to the semifinals against the victor of the Belt-Clark Fork matchup Nov. 16.
NOTE – Great Falls Central had nine seniors when they faced the Titans in the 2018 8-man championship game. Saturday they will have 11 … Conversely, Flint Creek had four seniors in 2018 (Colby Manley, Riley Allen, Luke Holland and Kane Hess) and will have just two suited for Saturday’s game in Wyatt Rigby and Daniel Brabender. Their third senior Conley Wagner has been out all season with an injury. … The Mustangs have two losses on the season, both to the Fort Benton Longhorns. They two teams played as out-of-division opponents on Sept. 27 and again for the top seed in the Northern Conference Oct. 19. … Unlike 2018 when the Mustangs and Titans had three common opponents, in 2019 the two squads have played completely separate schedules with no overlap. … Great Falls Points Per Game this year is 40.4 over nine games played while allowing 19.6. Flint Creek scores at a rate of 50.0 PPG and gives up 33.4
Game Site: Great Falls High School’s Memorial Stadium
1900 2nd Ave. S, Great Falls, MT 59405
Parking around the stadium, mostly on the western side near Kranz Park.