The Polson Pirates football team got to experience its potential with the team at full strength in their 37-6 homecoming victory over Libby Friday night at Polson High School.
The return of their starting running back Colton Cote lifted the Pirates run game, according to Pirates coach Patrick Danley. Cote finished his season debut leading Polson in rushing with 12 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.
“We certainly ran the ball better and having (Cote) back (in the lineup) helped us a ton,” Danley said.
Polson began its season with a 0-4 record, including a 32-19 loss in its conference-opening game to its Mission Valley rival Ronan. The victory over the Loggers improved their conference record to 1-1.
“It’s funny our seniors came up to me after the game and said ‘I wish we could have played the first game like this and the whole season would be different,’” Danley said. “Obviously (the victory) gives us a lot of confidence (moving forward).”
Danley said he felt the victory was “uplifting,” after the team was still recovering from their conference-opening loss to Ronan.
“The loss to Ronan was tough and there was a lot of discouragement afterwards, but we had a good week in practice (preparing for Libby) and winning the game during homecoming gives the kids a little more confidence,” Danley said.
The passing game was an improved element to the Pirates offense, Danley said.
Polson quarterback Bo Kelley was 5-of-10 passing, 174 yards, and four of his completions were for touchdowns. Two of Kelley’s touchdown passes were to Trevor Schultz and included an 85-yarder in the second quarter and a 17-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Kelley also connected with Ryker Wenderoth for a 20-yard and 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Other offensive contributors wereSchultz that ended up with two passes for 102 yards, and two touchdowns and Wenderoth caught two passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
The most glaring statistic from the game was the Pirates didn’t surrender one sack in the entire contest.
“Offensively we played much better,” Danley said. “There is still one thing that we have yet to do in the first quarter and that is score a touchdown. Having Cote and Koby Garcia back in the running game really helped us a lot.”
The Pirates defense also pitched a near shutout. Late in the fourth, Polson allowed the Loggers to score when QB Jeff Offenbecher scored on a 31-yard touchdown run.
Danley said one of the major contributors to their improvement on defense was Haden Smith. Smith didn’t lead the Pirates in tackles, but had four tackles for losses, Danley said.
“He was just all over the place on defense,” Danley said.
Pirates’ kicker Conner Lanier was a key contributor to the victory, Danley said. Lanier connected on 4-of-5 of his point-after attempts and also help convert a key first down on a fake punt, throwing a pass to Haden Smith, keeping a drive alive.
Danley said he felt his team will continue to improve in its run and pass game with the return of Cote.
“I am thrilled with how we played,” Danley said. “I think we will just continue to get better as the season progresses.”
Pirates prepare for Whitefish
The victory over the Loggers and Ronan’s 24-23 loss helped the Pirates, now 1-1 the conference, have a chance to move up in the log-jammed conference standings, as their goal is to try to finish second in the conference to secure a playoff berth.
The Pirates have three more conference games left before the first round of the Class A playoffs begin Oct. 27. Polson will have Whitefish, Browning and Columbia Falls for its last three games,
Danley said Whitefish is in a similar situation as his team coming off their first victory with a 24-23-conference victory over Ronan.
“(Whitefish) is just like us and they are coming off of their first win,” Danley said. “Whitefish’s head coach Chad Ross is a great coach they have a really good kicker and are a threat to score when they get inside the 30-yard line. We will have to play well to beat them.”
Danley emphasized the next three games are “must wins.”
“I think the remaining of our games are must wins because there is only going to be two of our teams out of our league make the playoffs,” Danley said. “If we can win-out that will be huge for us because the margin for error is small.”
The Pirates will play Whitefish Friday night at Whitefish High School. in a crucial conference matchup the Pirates must win to stay in the hunt in the playoff picture.