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Loss to Polson won't stop Dogs as playoffs begin

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | October 27, 2021 1:05 AM

Whitefish carried a slight lead into halftime and again early in the third quarter, but Polson made more plays as the clock wound down in the game to defeat the Bulldogs 38-24 in Whitefish Friday night.

The Pirates, 8-0, handed Whitefish its second-straight loss after the Bulldogs started off undefeated through the first seven games of the regular season. Whitefish finishes regular season play 7-2 overall and 2-2 in conference.

Although Whitefish fell to the Pirates, the Bulldogs are still in great shape heading into the first round of the playoffs and are touting their best record in the last six years.

The Bulldogs are the third seed in the Western A division and will host fifth-seeded Frenchtown in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday. With their winning record, the Bulldogs have home field advantage for the first postseason game — that’s the first time Whitefish has hosted a playoff game since 2015.

In 2015 the Bulldogs won the Class A State Championship and that was also the last time Whitefish won in the first-round playoff series.

Polson is the second seed in the west and will get a bye week, then on Nov. 6 will play the winner of the Billings Central-Libby game.

Friday night’s matchup with Polson started off slow offensively for both teams, but Whitefish’s Ryder Barinowski kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs an early advantage.

In the second quarter, Polson quarterback Jarrett Wilson connected with Robert Perez on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Shortly after Bulldog junior quarterback Fynn Ridgeway hurdled over top of a cluster of players to find the end zone on a short run. The Pirates came roaring back with another touchdown, this time it was Wilson on a 1-yard rush.

Just before the end of the half, Bulldog senior Bodie Smith collected an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ridgeway to regain the lead from Polson entering halftime.

Throughout the half Whitefish focused on taking Pirate quarterback Wilson out of his passing game and forcing the ball on the ground, however Wilson was able to find yardage with the run.

The second half featured a bout of steady rain, which kept the ball mostly on the ground for the Bulldogs. Despite the weather though, Polson opened the second-half scoring with a massive 32-yard reception by Colton Graham; the Pirates also went for a 2-point conversion but didn’t connect.

Whitefish was able to get 7 points back in their favor midway through the third quarter when Ty Schwaiger broke through for a 17-yard touchdown run and Barinowski nailed the extra point.

Before the end of the third Polson scored again to take a narrow 25-24 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Polson tacked on another Wilson touchdown run to further the Pirates lead to 31-24. Whitefish gave up the ball on downs with just over 2 minutes left and then regained possession for one last attempt with 1:07 on the clock. Polson’s Wilson sealed the game when he picked off a Ridgeway pass on fourth down and returned it for a touchdown.

Ridgeway threw 2-12 in the game for 28 passing yards, both of his completed passes were to Smith who had 28 yards and one touchdown. Ridgeway ran the ball as the rainy conditions were challenging, he had 14 carries for 92 rushing yards.

Whitefish junior running back Ty Schwaiger again led the Bulldogs on the ground with 140 yards and one touchdown.

On the other side, Polson’s Wilson completed 17 passes for 191 yards and ran for 145 on 23 carries.

The game saw seven lead changes before Polson kept the advantage in the final quarter.

Whitefish also honored 15 seniors during the game for senior night on the last day of the regular season.

“That was a great high school football game,” Whitefish coach Chad Ross told the Daily Inter Lake following the game. “Hundred percent. Loved it.”

As both teams featured a high level of play, the game was a taste for what might be ahead as both Polson and Whitefish charge into the postseason.

The Bulldogs will host Frenchtown on Saturday at the Dawg Pound. Game time is 3 p.m.

Polson 0 13 12 13 - 38

Whitefish 3 14 7 0 - 24

W — Ryder Barinowski 24 FG

P — Robert Perez 11 pass from Jarrett Wilson (Kaden Nelson kick)

W — Fynn Ridgeway 5 run (Barinowski kick)

P — Wilson 1 run (kick failed)

W — Bodie Smith 18 pass from Ridgeway (Barinowski kick)

P — Colton Graham 32 pass from Wilson (pass failed)

W — Ty Schwaiger 17 run (Barinowski kick)

P — Alex Muzquiz 4 pass from Wilson (run failed)

P — Wilson 16 run (run failed)

P — Wilson 30 interception return (Nelson kick)

photo

Bulldog Ty Schwaiger carries the ball down the field avoiding a Polson defender Friday night at the Dawg Pound. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)