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

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Trojans start strong, defeat Shepherd

Play Glasgow Friday in Butte


August 30, 2017

Jack H. Smith

Colby Smith leaps for the quarterback Friday night against Shepherd.

The Whitehall/Harrison High School football team could not have asked for a better start to their opening game of the season August 25 at Shepherd.

Dynamic junior returner Connor Johnson took back the opening kickoff 70 yards for a score, the first of four first-half touchdowns in the impressive 28-12 road victory.

Head Coach Dan Lacey said the coaching staff and players have been talking about Johnson having a breakout play in a game and he did not disappoint just seconds into the game.

"We've been waiting for that for two years. I couldn't be happier for the kid. He's earned that and he's a game changing type of player," Lacey said.

Whitehall was successful on the two-point conversion when they reached into their bag of tricks courtesy of a pitch from holder Wyatt Alexander to Cade Briggs. The successful conversion put the Trojans up 8-0 just 17 seconds into the game.

The Trojans would find the end zone again before the end of the quarter when junior quarterback Max Feight connected with Alexander for a 30-yard touchdown with 6:56 left in the first.

Shepherd would strike back quickly with their only points of the first half when Kohl Michels took back the ensuring kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown.

Whitehall would quickly get the momentum back with two consecutive touchdowns, the first another Feight to Alexander touchdown, this time a 25 yard strike to put the Trojans up 20-6 five seconds into the second quarter.

Feight would score the final Whitehall touchdown on the night when he bullied over a defender on a 10-yard score with 5:58 remaining in the half. Feight would connect with Braden Smith on the two-point conversion to push the lead to 28-6.

Lacey praised the performance of his junior quarterback in his first varsity start at the position.

"Max played great. The one play that really stood out to me was on the two-point conversion --- he stepped up in the pocket, felt it closing down and dumped it down to Braden. That was a veteran style play from a kid that hasn't had a lot of varsity snaps at quarterback," he said.

The junior quarterback was 18 of 26 for 260 yards. He was also the leading ball carrier with 49 yards rushing. Alexander had eight receptions for 122 yards. Briggs had 48 yards receiving, Johnson had 46, and Smith had 44. Sawyer Keener led the team in tackles with 12. Smith and Dawson Hoerauf each added seven tackles. Hoerauf added two sacks.

Feight would end his night with one interception, but Lacey was quick to take the blame for the miscue.

"I blame it on myself. We did not get to the line in time," he said.

Feight was able to answer for the turnover with an interception on defense with Shepherd driving late in the third quarter, after having cut the lead to 28-12.

Jack H. Smith

Connor Johnson takes the opening kick 70 yards for a touchdown.

After giving up only one defensive touchdown that happened early in the third on five-yard run from Michels, Lacey lauded the play of his entire defensive unit, new coordinator Brennan Hayes, and assistant Ed Simon for his work with the line.

"Those kids were ready to roll. We bent, but did not break. I'm proud of my defense," he said.

Last week it appeared Whitehall would have a bye September 1, but instead will take the field after reaching an agreement to play Glasgow at Naranche Stadium in Butte.

The game will take on extra significance for Lacey who played receiver at Butte High School.

"I can't wait. That's my hometown and where (Butte) I played as a kid growing up. I told these guys it's going to be really bittersweet to bring my team home and compete in against a really quality opponent in Glasgow," he said.


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