Before Charlo ever arrived to Forsyth they experienced setbacks during their nearly 500-mile trip to play the Class C, 8-man quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon at Forsyth High School.
As Charlo approached Deer Lodge they experienced a three-hour delay and even after they switched out buses from Butte to Bozeman the Vikings’ schedule was thrown off.
Charlo endured the snow-capped roads to make it Forsyth and according to Vikings’ coach Mike Krahn they had plenty of opportunity to make to prepare despite losing a significant amount of time in transition on the bus.
“We had a heck of a time (getting to our destination),” Krahn said. “We sat aside on the freeway for three hours and we were supposed to get there around six and got there at 11. It was kind of snowing (during our whole trip to Forsyth) and our bus only traveled about 35 MPH from Butte to Bozeman and it snowed the whole way there.”
Despite the blustery weather Krahn said it didn’t adversely affect his team’s performance on the field.
“Forsyth did a really great job in preparing the field and brushing off the snow and it wasn’t too windy up there (during game time) and it ended up being a lot better conditions and we held up really good in the elements,” Krahn said.
Krahn said he uses adversities like these as teaching moments for his team to learn from. Krahn said he felt the situation was a great way to showcase how to deal with adversity for the team.
“I think that is one of those things that you use as a teaching lesson,” Krahn said. “This is why have our players play sports because sports really mirrors live and in life you are going to have to times when you are out on the road, maybe on vacation with your family and something breaks down. That is life you have to find a way to get it fixed and move now and how you handle it is more important than what happens to you. We could have used (the delay) as an excuse and i don’t think we did that our players just rolled with the punches, had a decent night’s sleep and rolled into to play football the next day.”
Charlo found themselves dealing with adversity early in the first quarter agains the Dogies.
Forsyth’s RB Logan Martens scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:59 left to go in the first quarter. This was quickly followed by Paul Johnstone’s 56-yard run with 5:31 in the first quarter to give the Dogies a 14-0 advantage over Charlo.
The Vikings would not give up despite the early adversity.
“They were tough and they marched right down the field and ran the football with their big boys,” Krahn said. “I was impressed with their team speed and usually on film its very hard to tell how much speed a team has. (Our team) had a little bit of a bumpy start and we turned the ball over and when they scored their second touchdown I thought to myself ‘oh boy,’ this is the type of team with their ball-control type offense that we didn’t want to get down against.”
Exactly one minute after the Dogies scored its second touchdown Charlo responded. Vikings’ quarterback Landers Smith scored on a 48-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-6 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
The Vikings were able to flip the script of the game with a second quarter rally. Charlo would not only rally but turn the tide of momentum of the game going into halftime.
Charlo scored 26 points in the second quarter to give them a 32-22 lead at half time. The Vikings accomplished this behind Smith again.
Smith scored four touchdowns before halftime on a 2-yard run, a 42-yard run, and a 62-yard run. The three touchdown gave the Vikings a 32-22 lead going into halftime.
Perhaps more important than the lead the Vikings were gained the momentum they needed to begin the process of taking the Dogies out of their game.
“During our second quarter we really responded and they had a hard time against our speed and we started to use our speed to make some big plays,” Krahn said. “We got some good defensive stops and they had a few clock-management problems in the second before we scored at halftime.”
Charlo couldn’t sustain its momentum against the Dogies in the second half. Despite their 26-point scoring barrage in the second quarter they were unable to maintain the point production in the 50-32 Class C, 8-man quarterfinal loss Saturday at Forsyth High School.
“We really felt good (going into halftime) we were going to be able to get the ball back and I really thought we would go back out there and picked up right where we left off,” Krahn said. “To Forsyth’s credit they never quit and they adjusted some things and started tackling better and that is what happened we marched right down the field and it looked like we were going to score again and on fourth-and-goal we didn’t get there. It was a hard time getting our offense going in the second half our execution dropped off for whatever reason. I think its hard to pinpoint how Forsyth adjusted to that game and they were able limit our big plays and defensively we started having trouble tackling and I think it was just fatigue in a hard-fought game and we just couldn’t get a break in the second half.”
During halftime Krahn and his coaching staff really encouraged his team knowing they were going to get the ball back at halftime.
“When we went into halftime I told the boys ‘we are 0-0 and we have to win this half to win the game and forget what happened in the first half,” Krahn said. “We are on their home field and they are going to come out with some pride and being at home they are going to try to regroup and we had to keep up our intensity and for the most part on that first drive we did that. There were just a couple of things that can change a football game and not scoring that touchdown changed the face of that game a little bit. If we score we are leading by a minimum of 16 points and they would had to start throwing the ball and getting a little desperate. Their team is tough and held us out and didn’t get out of their game plan didn’t panic trying to mix things up. I think it was just a combination of little things and just how good they were it is hard to say really but good football teams usually find a way to respond and credit their players and coaches for sticking to their game-plan and overcoming adversity.”
The Dogies were able to gain the lead they would never reprieve in the third quarter. They scored on a 15-yard touchdown run and Nathan Weber scored on yet another 56-yard run that gave Forsyth a 36-32 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
The Dogies scored twice more and Charlo was unable to answer their four second half touchdowns. Knoche scored on a 5-yard yard run and Weber scored on an 8-yard pass to end the competitive phase of the game with 4:50 left to play in the game.
Despite the hard-fought loss the Vikings can now look towards the future of their illustrious program. The last two seasons Charlo has qualified for the quarterfinals and the finished runner-up in the Class C, 8-man championship with a 30-24 loss to Ennis in overtime.
Charlo has had two of its most historic seasons in recent history of the program and they will still return cornerstone to the team Landers Smith for 2018 season.
The Vikings finish the last two seasons with a 4-2 postseason record winning games against Chester-Joplin-Iverness, Fairview, Belt, and Joliet in the last combined postseasons of the MHSA Class C, 8-man football playoffs.