Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Bulldog quarterback holds it together, despite ‘baptism by fire’ and 41-7 loss

I was extremely happy with Famous.” – Mike Flamm, Varsity Head Coach
The Bulldogs once again have been forced to use a freshman quarterback before he is ready. Baptism by fire is a tough way to learn at any position in football, but this is especially true for a quarterback.
Junior Cody Small was the first to face this challenge at quarterback his freshman year and survived. He improved his sophomore year, and was starting out as a reliable passer and runner this year, but was injured in the Havre game. 
According to Head Coach Mike Flamm, he’s not certain when Small will return. He also is unsure about the return of Justin Zier and Ricky Hill Jr. 
Hardin needs a talented, experienced quarterback to run their fast-paced offense. With the loss of Small they had to fall back on backup QB Steffan Walks Over Ice in the Havre game. Walks Over Ice is more valuable to the Bulldogs as a receiver and running back, so Head Coach Mike Flamm chose to give the 6-foot-2, 170 pound freshman Famous Left Hand the baptism by fire experience, starting him against the Butte Central Maroons Friday night in Butte. 
For his first start in Montana Class A football, Lefthand did okay. He appeared composed, handling several low snaps without fumbling. He was 7 of 17 in passing for 72 yards and his accurate passing in the fourth helped the Bulldogs put together a 50-yard drive for their only score in the game. However, his inexperience at progressing through his reads, knowing what he’s seeing and who to pass to produced two interceptions, both of which the Maroons turned into points.
Hardin’s offense was limited to a total of 164 yards with Dustin Proctor getting 50 yards on six carries, while Ezekiel Coyote Runs hauled the ball 10 times for 20 yards.
Bulldog defense made several good defense plays, but were not consistent enough to be a serious threat to the Butte Central Maroons’ offense. The Maroons amassed over 200 yards on the ground – senior quarterback Tanner Kump led with 104 on 8 carries. Kump also passed for 176 yards on 12 completions of 14 attempts.
Hardin has lost five starters during the first three weeks of the season: Hill was injured in the Browning game, Small and Zier in the Havre game, and during practice this week they lost sophomore running back J’Ree Old Bull with a knee injury and Gidion Herbel to a bruised thigh. They may have also lost Bryce Roan due to bruised ribs Friday night. 
“We were piecing things together this week,” said Coach Flamm. “A lot of new kids were on defense and we didn’t tackle very well, so that hurt us. Stopping the run game wasn’t very strong for us. We got some experience, though. We got some stuff on film for the kids and hopefully we can build some depth with it to get them what they need to be doing the right way. When the others come back from their injuries, hopefully it will be a competition to see if they get their job back.” 
 As for the freshmen quarterback Left Hand’s “trial by fire,” Coach Flamm said, “I was extremely happy with Famous.  My expectations from a freshmen coming in was screwed up snap counts, fumbled snaps – the typical stuff that happens with a first time kid going in there and starting with short notice. None of that happened. He had poise, confidence.  We had a skinny playbook for him and as the game progressed, we were able to expand the playbook and he handled everything we threw at him. There were some glitches, of course, but not many. He was pretty good. His first three passes he put right on the guy. He had some drops that he put right on the receivers; obviously, he miss threw on two. Overall, he was solid. I was well pleased.
“He was a real bright spot for us. We will see where Cody is this week. I’m not afraid of that position right now.”
Coach Flamm was not pleased with the performance of his defense Friday night, though he was pleased with their not giving up. 
“We had good fight in the game,” he said. “We weren’t hanging our heads, we just weren’t tackling, not hanging on to guys, but that’s teachable. Now, on film, they’ll see it and may be able to understand it better than being a two in practice and just seeing it in practice or watching it on film. Now they’ll see themselves on film. They (the Maroons) were a solid team, better than I expected.”
Defensively the Bulldogs were led by Bryce Roan with six tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Walks Over Ice and Coyote Runs also had six tackles. Hunter Popetsaitke and Trevor Edwards both had 5 tackles and Popetsaitke also had one tackle for loss.
Flamm had some additional praise to hand out: “Hunter Popetsaitke did a nice job coming in and filling in on the outside backer spot. He’s small, but he will tangle with guys. Dustin Proctor had a nice day running the flies. He got it down to the five-on-one play, but it got called back.”
Flamm is optimistic about his Bulldogs: “Piece-by-piece, we will get there. We just have to get healthy and hopefully these other kids will develop some skills that’ll contribute to what we’re doing.”
Hardin travels to Livingston Friday to take on winless Park High in the Central A. 
“They have enough kids to play,” said Coach Flamm. “I’m sure they’ll come out battling and if they see our scores the last couple of weeks, they’ll think they have a shot. If we give them a shot, they’ll play with us the whole night. Hopefully, we can put our pieces together, see who’s healthy and make sure we execute.”