Three for Three: Trojans Pickup Thrilling Road Victory
September 7, 2016
It wasn’t easy, by no means was pretty, but the Whitehall/Harrison High School football team displayed the heart of champion and dug deep to get their third consecutive win to start the season Friday night at Mitchell Stadium in Anaconda.
After not giving up a point in their first two games of the season, the Trojans (3-0) would find themselves behind 27-21 at halftime. The defense quickly recovered and was able to pitch a shutout in the second half of the thrilling 28-27 victory over the homestanding Copperheads.
“We’ve got a great group of guys that handled a lot of adversity. We had a ton of turnovers, but we found ways to handle situations in tough spots. We were able to sneak out with the victory,” head coach Dan Lacey said.
Whitehall had another strong game from senior quarterback Braden Larsen who had two touchdown passes and ran for another.
Immediately following the game, Larsen said getting the narrow victory showed the toughness of the 2016 Trojans.
“This is a tough place and play and we were able to grind it out and get the one point victory,” he said.
Anaconda was the first to score Friday, scoring on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Hill to Trent Mikalatos. The Copperheads missed the extra point and led 6-0 with 5:32 left in the opening quarter.
It would not take long for the Trojans to respond to the opening score, and they scored their first points of the game on a one-yard run by sophomore Connor Johnson with 1:58 left in the first. They would take their first lead of the game on the subsequent extra point.
Whitehall furthered their lead on the first play of the second quarter when Larsen connected with Wyatt Alexander for a six-yard touchdown to put the Trojans up 14-6.
The Copperheads quickly answered with a five-yard run from Chase Reisenhauer. The subsequent two-point conversion tied the game at 14.
The Trojans offense fired right back and was able to retake the lead with 6:06 left in the half on a eight-yard touchdown run by Larsen.
The rest of the quarter belonged to Anaconda, who would take a 27-21 lead after a 67-yard touchdown reception by Mikalatos and a one-yard run from Hill.
Those would be the last points of the game for Anaconda.
Whitehall would score the final points of the game with 8:03 left the third on a 51-yard scoring strike from Larsen to Alexander.
The Copperheads moved the ball deep into Trojans territory on several occasions in the second half, but Whitehall was able to hold their ground including a dramatic four-down stop late in the final quarter.
Lacey praised the defense for stepping up late in the contest.
“It speaks volumes about this team to never give up. The chips were down and they had the ball inside the ten looking to take the lead and we found a way to gut it out and get the win,” Lacey said. “Words cannot express how proud I am of these guys.”
Trailing at halftime, Larsen said the team did not make a lot of adjustments, they just knew they had to play better.
“We were losing the one-on-one battles in the first half and we won them in the second half, that was the real difference,” Larsen said.
The Trojans will look for their fourth consecutive win to open the season Friday, September 16 when they host Deer Lodge.
Deer Lodge will also come into the game undefeated, having picked up a 42-0 victory over Troy and a 59-36 win over Thompson Falls.
Lacey said the Trojans will have their hands full at the Homecoming game.
“They like to huck it just like we do and we have got to tighten up some things. We have to have a lot better corner play,” he said.
Lacey feels communication will be the key to success for the defensive backs.
“We have to communicate so we can understand situations and be on the same page,” he said.