Blue Hawks shut out Clark Fork Mountain Cats, 42-0
By CHUCK BANDEL
A pair of eight-man state semi-finalists from the 2019 Montana football playoffs collided in Superior Friday night in what promised to be a hard fought battle.
While both teams gave it their all, Thompson Falls was the clear winner as they pounded the Clark Fork Mountain Cats 42-0 in the Cats home opener.
With revenge over one of their two losses from last year on their minds, the Blue Hawks jumped on the scoreboard first, recovering a Clark Fork fumble in the end zone. A successful two-point conversion staked the visitors to an 8-0 lead.
Paced by a large, quick defense, Thompson Falls, which opened the season with a hard-fought 38-32 win over Mission High a week ago, held Clark Fork on the Cats opening drive of the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, a series of runs, including two quick 20-yard jaunts by Thompson Falls running back Kade Pardee, took the ball to the Clark Fork 4, where Blue Hawk quarterback Roman Sparks punched over the goal line with three ticks of the clock remaining, giving the Blue Hawks a 14-0 lead, which stayed that way following a missed point after try.
The Mountain Cats got the ball to open the second half. That drive too was stalled by the Blue Hawks defense, thanks in large part to constant pressure on Mask, led by 6-5, 270-pound lineman Cody Burk.
A punt gave Thompson Falls the ball at their own 27-yard line. After moving to midfield, Pardee broke around the left side and raced 40 yards to the end zone with 7:29 to play in quarter number three. Pardee scored a two-point conversion that boosted the Blue Hawk lead to 22-0.
After forcing another Clark Fork punt on the Mountain Cats next possession, the Blue Hawks took over at the Clark Fork 36. They moved the ball to the 3, thanks in large part to another 20-yard run by Pardee, who last year was a star basketball player for Plains High. From three yards out, Sparks once again broke through the Clark Fork line for a score, upping the Thompson Falls lead to 28-0.
The fourth quarter began with a series of incomplete passes by Mask, culminating in a ball that was tipped and intercepted by the Blue Hawks, who took possession at the Clark Fork 39. One play later, Sparks, who had been injured earlier in the game, blew through and past the Mountain Cats defenders on his way to a 39-yard TD run.
A successful point after touchdown conversion upped Thompson Falls’ lead to 36-0 and put the mercy rule into play.
The Blue Hawks defense held solid the rest of the way and the offense added another touchdown on the ground with just over five minutes to play to round out the scoring.
The win improved Thompson to 2-0 while Clark Fork fell to 1-1.
Both teams play Friday. Clark Fork has homecoming in Superior against Mission while Thompson Falls hosts Seeley.