Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Whitefish football finds rhythm in 2nd half, downs Libby

Whitefish Pilot | October 13, 2021 1:00 AM

The Bulldogs only had nine plays for five yards throughout the entire first half as Libby controlled the ball, but through the final two quarters Whitefish unfolded a different story.

To start the third quarter Bulldog senior Bodie Smith busted through the Logger defense for a 93-yard kickoff return which gave Whitefish a much needed boost. The Bulldogs offense started clicking and their defense made adjustments to stop the run which led to a Bulldog win over Libby, 27-14.

The win improves the Bulldogs to 7-0 with two conference games remaining before the postseason.

“That was the difference, the offense finding their rhythm and defense playing better on first down in the second half really turned that game around,” Whitefish head coach Chad Ross said. “I was proud of the kids… It’s a four-quarter game, no one wins a game in the first half.”

Libby got on the board in the first quarter when Logger Ryder Davis snuck through for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Loggers possessed the ball for much of the first half and racked up over 140 offensive yards, according to Ross. Whitefish struggled to move the ball on offense to start the game, but the defense came up with several stops including a huge fourth-down stop that could have resulted in Libby taking a two-touchdown lead into halftime.

During the break, Ross told his team that there was no need to panic and there was plenty of time to get the offense working.

After Smith’s touchdown return to start the second half, Whitefish took a slight 7-6 lead and they started to find a rhythm.

“Obviously Bodie’s big touchdown return to open the second half was huge for us, that gave us a lot of confidence,” Ross said.

Bulldog Cody Berry’s 11-yard scoring run put Whitefish ahead 14-6, but the Loggers had a game tying score before the end of the third. The Bulldogs dug deep in the final quarter as Fynn Ridgeway had a short scoring run to put Whitefish ahead once again. Ridgeway then completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jaxsen Schlauch which secured the win.

The defense held Libby scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Ridgeway completed 6-of-13 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown pass, he also ran the ball six times for 34 yards and a rushing touchdown. Berry led the way for the Bulldogs on the ground with 65 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown. Schlauch had three catches for 44 yards.

Ross says that with each game his team is growing in maturity. The Bulldogs have essentially secured at least a fourth place finish in the league which guarantees at least one home-advantage playoff game. Every win they can get from here just places them in a better position for the postseason.

“So really every day we’re playing, we’re trying to move up in the playoff rankings,” he said. “Every game really matters.”

And that’s especially true as the Bulldogs prepare to face their cross-town rival Columbia Falls on Friday. The Wildcats are having a stellar season as well with their only loss coming from the undefeated Polson Pirates.

Ross is anticipating an emotional game, but encouraging his players to focus on what they can do to prepare and show up ready to battle through a tough football game.

“They know we hold our own destiny in our hands…” Ross said. “It’s neat being in the drivers seat for the first time… It’s going to be a great, solid football game and whoever executes the best I really think is going to win this game.”

Whitefish will host Columbia Falls on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Dawg Pound.

Whitefish 0 0 14 13 - 27

Libby 6 0 8 0 - 14

L — Ryder Davis 2 run (kick failed)

W — Bodie Smith 93 kickoff return (Ryder Barinowski kick)

W — Cody Berry 11 run (Barinowski kick)

L — Jace DeShazer 1 run (Cy Stevenson run)

W — Fynn Ridgeway 2 run (Barinowski run)

W — Jaxsen Schlauch 26 pass from Ridgeway (kick failed)