When Polson and Ronan High School football teams get ready to face each other at 7 p.m. Friday night at Polson High School the teams won’t be as focused as much on the historical context as both teams desperately need to secure a win to stay relevant in the Northwest A conference race.
The situation was similar to last year’s scenario with both teams needing a win Ronan defeated Polson 32-19 last season to cap Ronan’s homecoming.
Neither team ended up making the playoffs in 2017, but the win allowed Ronan to be in the playoff mix until the season-finale loss against Browning officially eliminated them from playoff contention.
This season, both teams have started the season 0-4.
“We would love to throw out the record, because both of our teams are 0-4,” Pirates’ coach Pat Danley said.
Last year, Danley said he felt his team struggled to establish momentum against Ronan.
“It was disappointing (last year) and our team didn’t come out ready to play and Ronan gave them and their coaches credit and we came out very flat and (Ronan) came out fired up,” Danley said. “We can’t allow that happen again this year.”
Danley, who is been a part of the rivalry for the last 18 years as assistant coach and entering his second year as a head coach, stated that historically Polson has generally come out on the “winning end” of the Polson-Ronan rivalry.
“Honestly, I don’t know it is unfortunate, but some of the best Ronan teams we didn’t face because they were in Class B and (Polson) missed a lot of their better teams,” Danley said. “We’ve had some good teams, but for the most part what I remember of the Polson-Ronan games is Polson generally had the best of it and didn’t play them a couple of those years when they had better teams.”
This year, Polson had a similar situation that Ronan faced last season. Last year, the quarterback Ronan committed to at the start of the season Brendon Blood, injured league in the first half of their 2017 season-opener against Butte Central.
This year, the Pirates have found themselves down to their third-string emergency quarterback Boston Goode. Polson’s starting quarterback Bo Kelley, who tore his ACL during basketball, and Colby Soderquist, the player Polson committed to during the offseason, suffered a season-ending injury, which paved the way for Goode to become the Pirates’ starter.
Ronan QB Eric Dolence, in contrast, has solidified his job at the Chiefs’ starter and his athletic ability is something the Pirates’ defense will have to account for.
“I think (Dolence) is a pretty athletic kid and can run the ball and pass the ball,” Danley said. “We are going to have to contain them because he likes to get out on the perimeter and let his athleticism take over and he has some receivers that he can throw the ball to.”
Danley, who has members of the Pirates’ coaching staff, that have been on both sides of the rivalry, including Hazeez Rafiu, who used to be a Chiefs’ assistant coach, has seen both sides.
This game also marks the first time Polson will host Ronan in a football or basketball game.
“I know for older timers it Is a huge game,” Danley said. “There are lot of kids and people around here that are excited about playing them on our home field after a long hiatus.”
Even though this game is more focused on getting a win for both teams, there will still be plenty of bragging rights at stake, Danley said.
“Obviously, we want to beat them,” Danley said. “There is a lot of respect for boths teams and for those that struggle and that we struggle and it certainly isn’t anything personal, but we want to beat them and they want to beat us.”