The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

5-0: Trojans upend rival Panthers


September 21, 2016

Jack H. Smith

Whitehall junior Braden Smith moves in for the tackle on Jefferson County running back Garrett Siler. The Trojans picked up a 33-18 win Friday night over rival Jefferson County High School.

Going into Friday night's game at Jefferson County High School in Boulder, the senior class members of the Whitehall/Harrison High School football team had yet to pick up a varsity win over their archrival. They have now.

After falling behind 12-7 with 9:52 left in the second quarter, it was all Whitehall (5-0, 1-0 Southern 5B) who scored 26 consecutive points on their way to a dominant 33-18 win.

Just moments after the game, head coach Dan Lacey said getting the win for the seniors was the best feeling in the world.

"These seniors have worked so hard as a unit, but they haven't ever beat Jefferson. I love that our underclassmen understood how big of a game this was for the seniors and they sent them out of town with a win," he said.

The Panthers (3-2, 0-1 Southern 5B) would find the scoreboard first when quarterback Josh Eckman connected with Britton Peterson for a 56-yard touchdown with 5:50 left in the opening quarter.

Whitehall would answer back after a Panther fumble with a seven-yard pass from Braden Larsen to Andrew Simon. The subsequent extra point by Simon gave the Trojans a 7-6 lead with 1:50 remaining in the first.

Jefferson County would answer early in the second, this time on a one-yard Eckman run with 9:52 left in the quarter to take a 12-7 lead.

After this it was all Whitehall.

The Trojans would close out the first half with two scores, the first on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Larsen to Wyatt Alexander with 7:04 left in the second quarter, and the second with 2:04 remaining on a one yard run by Larsen to take a 21 -12 lead into the break.

Whitehall scored the lone points of the third quarter when Larsen once again found the end zone, this time on a three-yard scamper to push the lead to 27-12.

The Trojans were once again able to capitalize on a Panther turnover in the fourth quarter, and ballooned the lead to 33-12 on another short touchdown run from Larsen with 4:15 left.

"We took advantage of the turnovers. They had two and we scored on both of them," Lacey said.

Jefferson County scored the final points of the game with 2:58 remaining on a four-yard run by Nate Brunett.

After an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by Jefferson County, the Trojans were able to run out the clock and notch their first victory over the Panthers since a 27-8 home win October 9, 2009.

Larsen ended the night 16 of 28 through the air for 218 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 74 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Simon had five receptions for 87 yards, and Alexander finished the night with six receptions for 71 yards. Junior Braden Smith added 53 yards rushing.

Lacey said the Trojans defense may have bent a little Friday, but they did not break.

"We're making the plays when we need to. We're understanding field position battles and were winning when we need to," he said.

Jack H. Smith

Whitehall's Andrew Simon rushes Panther quarterback Josh Eckmann in the first half of the Trojans 33-18 victory.

Despite falling behind twice in the first half, Lacey said his team was relentless and know every opportunity is a chance to be successful and praised his teams hard work during the week.

"The understanding and preparation they have is awesome to watch on Friday nights," he said.

The undefeated Trojans will face another stern road test next Friday, when they will take a trip West on Interstate 90 to face Manhattan (4-1, 1-0 Southern 5B). The Tigers opened their conference season Friday with a 43-0 victory over Three Forks.

Lacey said Manhattan is going to come out throwing the ball and it's going to be a battle.

"It's a big conference road game. We've got to come out of there with a win. We are treating every game right now like it's a playoff game. If you lose one or two in conference, you might not go to the playoffs," he said.


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