Mountain Cats rout Arlee Warriors, 50-14
Clark Fork running back Decker Milender scored on a 49-yard TD run against Arlee in a 50-14 win last week. (Chuck Bandel/Valley Press)
By CHUCK BANDEL
One of the key factors in maintaining a winning sports program is outstanding coaching.
Hence the surge going on with the Clark Fork football program.
With an untested underclass stepping up and in to fill the void left by the graduation of key players from last year, and with the return of the right blend of experience from returning talent, Mountain Cats Jeff Schultz and his staff have it rolling again.
The Mountain Cats put it all together Friday afternoon as they blew past Arlee 50-14 on the Warriors home field.
Quarterback extraordinaire Bryan Mask threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as Clark Fork upped its season mark to 5-2, their third consecutive victory.
Mask and company got off to a quick start in the game, which was moved from its scheduled 7 p.m. start to a 4 p.m. kickoff due to the ongoing referee shortage that has complicated scheduling in an already virus jumbled season.
The Mountain Cats got on the board first when Mask hooked up with senior running back Jake Calloway on a 13-yard touchdown pass that put the visitors ahead 8-0 following a successful point after touchdown try.
Later in the opening quarter, Mask connected on a five-yard TD toss to sophomore wideout Orion Plakke. The PAT run by sophomore Issac Miller put the Cats ahead 16-0.
Arlee would strike back before the end of the quarter when running back Colt Crawford broke loose for a 41-yard TD scamper that put the Warriors on the scoreboard at 16-6 as the quarter came to an end.
The Warriors closed the gap in the opening minutes of the second quarter thanks to a one-yard touchdown plunge by hulking lineman Noah Coulson, a 5-10, 220 pound senior. The PAT was no good, leaving the score at 16-12.
Later in the second quarter, Miller broke free on a 49-yard scoring run for the Mountain Cats, boosting their lead to 23-12. Before the first half was over, Mask flipped a short one-yard pass to Danner Haskins to give the Mountain Cats a 30-12 lead at the half.
Clark Fork’s defense then put the clamps down on Arlee in the second half, holding the hosts scoreless the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, Mask added to his scoring output when he crossed the goal line from three yards out in the third quarter, bumping the Mountain Cats advantage to 36-12.
Yet another emerging sophomore standout, Decker Milender added to the Clark Fork advantage before the end of the third quarter when he scooted past the Warriors defense on a 21-yard scoring run. He then added a two-point after touchdown conversion putting the Cats ahead 44-12 heading into the final quarter.
Milender was not done yet. Midway through the game’s final quarter, he sprinted past the beleaguered Arlee defense for a 49-yard touchdown to wrap up the Cats’ scoring assault.
“We started the year with a lot of younger players and we wondered how they would adjust to going from junior varsity to varsity,” coach Schultz said after the game. “They have adapted to playing up and the whole team is starting to come together.”
The win puts the Mountain Cats squarely in the hunt for another post-season playoff appearance for Schultz and his talented staff. Last year the Mountain Cats advanced to the state B-8 championship game.
Clark Fork plays host to Plains next Saturday evening in yet another schedule change due to referee shortages.