Charlo Vikings prepare to faceoff against Flint Creek

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CHARLO HIGH School player Isaiah Allik intercepts a pass during the first half of the regular season game against Troy Friday night at Charlo High School. (Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

The Charlo High School football team reached its first goal of the season when they defeated Troy 66-8 during senior night Friday at Charlo High School.

The Vikings are now playing for a conference championship and hope to clinch a No. 1 seed if they can defeat another undefeated team Flint Creek Friday night at Charlo High School.

“We have reached our first goal of the season and we are trying to make sure that we have a chance to play for a conference championship and in our sub division,” Vikings’ coach Mike Krahn said. “That was one of our goals.”

Pitted against Troy, a team they were heavily favored against headed into the game, Krahn and his coaching staff utilized the game as an opportunity to fine-tune their execution.

“When you know you probably have a good chance against a heavily favored team you have to come up with other goals,” Krahn said. “Obviously, you want to win, cut your penalties down and be sharp. The day before the game we worked on polishing up our game plan, playing crisp the next day and be ready to go when we play Flint Creek.”

The game against Flint Creek will be crucial for the Vikings’ playoff seeding, according to Krahn.

“It is really big when you look at it on paper and look what they have coming back, I expected them to be one of the top teams on their side,” Krahn said. “They were a little tougher than I expected. They’ve only given up I believe 30 points so far in seven games. That is a really impressive feat. It doesn’t surprise me knowing their defensive coordinator is from Drummond and is part of those five championship teams, has the defensive mindset and philosophy, and they are well-coached.”

Flint Creek, like the Charlo Vikings, is a team that has predicated its success on its team speed. They are averaging over 60 points a game.

Krahn said he felt the Titans’ team speed will be a challenge for the Vikings to match up against.

“The biggest thing overall is our team speed and they are going to be able to match us,” Kahn said. “They are comparable and right with us on team speed. They are going to have great fundamentals and great tackling. You can’t fool them. Some teams are going to be really disciplined and they play really physical football. That is a brand of football they’ve always played and took pride in like we do. It is cliché but it is like looking in the mirror at ourselves because the two programs have been so successful. They play the same type of football and we are evenly matched up.”

A former Flint Creek player, Mark Estes, transferred to Glacier this year. In spite of losing Estes, the Titans have continued to flourish.

“Losing Estes last year to a season-ending knee injury really hurt them and the majority of their team,” Krahn said. “The loss of Estes really forced a lot of kids to shoulder some of that load. Now, they are balanced, a really disciplined football team and are fundamentally sound. They are going to be an option type and running type. They opened up their passing game to their big tight end and big receiver. They like to play and spread the ball around.”

The Vikings, who are undersized and are accustomed to being undersized in bigger games, shouldn’t have a problem matching up with the Titans if they execute properly, Krahn said.

“I think we are accustomed to being undersized and our kids are used to trying to make up for that by being a little more physical,” Krahn said. “We try to get touches on the line of scrimmage. They have some height to their receivers, have a good team speed, and are pretty good size. Teams that are built like that are successful for a reason and it always come down to fundamentals: blocking, tackling and being disciplined for your game plan.”

Krahn said he felt winning this game against Flint Creek will be “huge” for his team’s success.

“It’ll be absolutely huge if we can win this game,” Krahn said. “The winner of the Charlo, Flint Creek game is guaranteed not to travel. On the bracket you will get a home game rather than travelling to Fairview or Forsyth.”

The game against the Titans will be a good measuring stick for the Vikings prior to entering the state tournament.

“I think we talked to our kids that we have to be tested,” Krahn said. “We don’t know what we need to work on or what we are susceptible to. You might look at it on paper and we’ve breezed through our sub division but I feel like we’ve been tested because of the physical nature of our conference. Our kids have responded and brought our physicality up a notch. I’ve felt like we will be tested speed wise.”

Krahn said he felt there is a strong possibility his team could be joined by a couple of teams in their sub division including Plains and Arlee, who are both playing for playoff spots this week. Arlee will host Victor at 7 p.m. Friday and Plains will travel to Twin Bridges at 7 p.m. Friday night at Twin Bridges High School.

“In our sub division we’ve got a chance we could send three to the playoffs from our sub division,” Krahn said. “I think Arlee can win and Plains can win and that is why they are playing each other for seeding. When we played Arlee during the season, I expected that game to be a little tougher. We know they were better than how they played us. Sometimes those rivalry games when you aren’t successful against the school the previous year its hard for high school kids to get past. They’ve been playing teams really tough this year.”

The major aspect that concerns Krahn about the Titans is their team speed.

“In most games, we have been able to have the speed advantage and for most of the games we’ve played well, they are fast and we are fast,” Krahn said. “We will definitely see where we are at.”

The Vikings could essentially end their regular season with a undefeated mark and they would play two more games prior to the Montana State High School Athletic Asscotation Class C, 8-man state football playoffs. Last year, the Vikings defeated Chester-Joplin-Inverness High School, Fairview and Belt in the state playoffs before they played Ennis High School in the state football championship.

During the 2016 campaign, Charlo hosted three of the four playoff games at home. This year, if the Vikings can win its final two games before the playoffs, they could reduce the amount of their travel significantly headed into what coach Krahn refers to as a very competitive field in the Class C, 8-man football this season.

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