Ronan High School football coach Matt Detwiler has been a part of the Polson-Ronan rivalry as both a player and coach.
As a player, Detwiler never experienced a victory as he went 0-4 as a member of the Chiefs’ football team. As a coach, his record remains unblemished at 2-4 after the Chiefs’ dramatic 27-21 victory over Polson, a game that went to three overtimes.
Detwiler, whose team was 0-3 before the triple-OT victory over the Pirates, said the victory was “massive” for his team to be able to carry momentum into next Friday night’s game when they host Whitefish, a team that is currently 3-2 with a three-game win streak, including victories over Butte Central, Corvallis and Browning.
“It’s massive and I told the kids after the game that no one will ever be able to take that away from them,” Detwiler said. “The kids will talk about the game for a long time. At high school reunions, it’ll get brought up that they won the game in triple overtime.”
Detwiler said he felt the Polson-Ronan game in which a Kolby Reum interception positioned Ronan to score, was a hard-fought, intense battle he anticipated with the rivalry.
“We had an outside linebacker blitz and we saw a lot of (Boston Goode) rolling out during the game,” Detwiler said. “We blitzed from the outside and kept them contained so they didn’t let him roll out. Justin Mays came off the edge and laid a shot on Boston before he let the ball go. Right as (Goode) let the ball go, Colby dropped into the fact and made a play. Obviously, the guy was doing his job on a play and good things happened. Everyone on our team did what they were supposed do during the play.”
Ruem said he followed his instincts.
“I just read him rolling out and I kind of looked at his eyes and saw where he was throwing,” Ruem said. “It was pretty exciting when I intercepted the ball. I don’t remember catching the ball. I just remember seeing the ball and running with it. It was pretty crazy. It caught me off guard just being there.”
He also followed his instincts and made sure he stayed in proper position.
“I just stay focused and (our line) put a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” Ruem said. “I just stayed in our coverage and played sound defense.”
After the victory, Detwiler said he fielded multiple phone calls from fans, faculty and anyone else tied to the rivalry.
“I think the amount of activity on my phone the last few days is evidence how big and how so many people reach out to community members,” Detwiler said. “Former coaches are tied to it and so many people reached out to me to congratulate the Ronan athletes. No one can ever take this away (from our kids). Ronan would love nothing more than to sweep Polson in everything, including speech and debate, wrestling, basketball, tennis and whatever other activity.”
To be on the upper hand of the Polson-Ronan rivalry in football equals bragging rights.
“This is a year worth of bragging rights,” Detwiler said. “Ronan has another year to hold their head high and people can wear a Ronan shirt with a big smile on their face. It’s fun. In games like this, you can whip the stats clean because there is so much that happens during a rivalry game. Stuff doesn’t always play out how it should in a rivalry game.”
Pirates coach Patrick Danley, whose team has come out on the losing end of the rivalry two consecutive seasons, said he felt his team gave a supreme effort in their fourth-consecutive loss.
“Obviously, it was really exciting to watch, it was pretty intense and it is one of the best games ever because of the turnout,” Detwiler said. “Ronan played very well and didn’t fold. They certainly played well defensively other than three breakdowns really.”
Danley said his team experienced some breakdowns offensively and defensively.
“We certainly did on offense and once again, we had too many turnovers and fumbled our very first snap of the game,” Danley said. “That was the third turnover of the game and we played very well except for our turnovers.”
Headed into this Friday’s game at Libby High School, Danley and his Pirates will continue to stay positive as they enter the second half of the season in search of the team’s first victory.
“We just need to stay positive and our first goal is to get our first win,” Danley said. “Our kids are going to go out and pick up where they left off effort wise and I certainly can’t question their effort. It is going to be a tough one mentally to get over and we will try to do what we can there.”