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Columbia Falls shuts out Whitefish in playoffs

by BRANDON HANSEN For the Pilot
| November 1, 2023 12:00 AM

Whitefish battled back from an 0-3 start to the season to not only earn a berth in the state playoffs for the second straight year, but also to defeat rival Columbia Falls 20-14 in overtime on Sept. 15.

That season's journey came to an end last Friday, Oct. 27, after a 42-0 first-round state playoff loss to none other than host Columbia Falls.

"Columbia Falls executed really well," Whitefish Head Coach Brett Bollweg said. "We hurt ourselves in several different areas, and they took advantage of that. They played really well and deserved to win the game."

Columbia Falls led 7-0 in the first quarter after a 19-yard touchdown pass by Wildcat quarterback Cody Schweikert. The quarterback would then run for two more touchdowns in the second quarter for the 21-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Schweikert threw a 22-yard touchdown pass and ran for another. Columbia Falls' scoring was capped off with a Banyan Johnston three-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the game.

The Bulldogs were held to 136 yards of offense, while the Wildcats had 338 yards.

"Only one team in the state really gets to walk away happy at the end of the year, but I can't say enough positive things about our guys," Bollweg said. "They are incredible. They put their heart and soul into this, and I am so grateful for the time that we have gotten with them."

Whitefish quarterback Carson Gulick completed 12-of-26 passes for 130 yards, including nine passes to Mason Kelch for 85 yards. Carson Krack also caught two passes for 28 yards.

Whitefish finished the season 4-6 on the year and made consecutive playoff trips for the first time since 2014-15.

"I think it means that we continue to head in the right direction," Bollweg said. "Our program is built on these guys, all of them. And hopefully, this gives them a little bit of the taste of what they want as we move forward."

The Bulldogs will graduate 13 seniors from this year's roster, all of whom played major roles for the team, not just on the team but also in the community and classroom.

"I am excited to see which guys step up to the challenge of taking ownership and leadership," Bollweg said. "It's always a bummer when the reality sets in that we won't see these guys in green and gold again, but it's also exciting for the younger guys to get their opportunity too."

Bollweg also thanked the football community for supporting and building the program.

"There is so much that goes into the behind the scenes stuff," Bollweg said. "We couldn't do it without you."

At Columbia Falls
COLUMBIA FALLS 42, WHITEFISH 0
Whitefish - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0
C-Falls - 7 - 14 - 14 - 7 - 42

SCORING SUMMARY
C — Mark Robison 19-yard pass from Cody Schweikert (Kai Golan kick), 7:03-1Q
C — Schweikert 15-yard run (Golan kick), 10:35-2Q
C — Schweikert 2-yard run (Golan kick), 2:33-2Q
C — Jace Hill 22-yard pass from Schweikert (Golan kick), 10:40-3Q
C — Schweikert 2-yard run (Golan kick), 4:16-3Q
C — Banyan Johnston 3-yard run (Golan kick), 6:03-4Q

GAME STATS
Rushing: Whitefish (10-6) — Carson Gulick 7-13, Dan Hunt 2-0
Passing: Whitefish (Gulick 12/26-130)
Receiving: Whitefish (Mason Kelch 9-85, Carson Krack 2-28, Hunt 3-21, CJ Thew 2-6, Carson Eisenbarth 1-4)