When Polson High School football coach Pat Danley comments that he’s never seen a game quite like the season-opening 28-18 loss to Stevensville Friday night at Polson High, he has 18 years of Pirates’ football reference.
“I know (Polson) has never had a varsity game with 15 turnovers,” Danley, who has been an assistant coach with the team since 2000, recalled. “We will have to get things squared away. We have to be competing by keeping kids healthy and hopefully things will get better.”
The two teams committed a grand total of 15 combined turnovers, with the Pirates contributing eight total turnovers (four interceptions and four fumbles) during the course of the topsy-turvy event.
“We essentially had two turnovers that were back-to-back,” Danley said. “They would commit a turnover and immediately gave the ball back on a fumble. We tried to take advantage of the opportunities we were given (during the game).”
The Pirates faced adversity before the season even began. The Pirates lost their starting quarterback Bo Kelley, who tore his ACL during basketball season, and they lost their backup Colby Soderquist, who broke his broke his leg during a scrimmage, which left the staff one week to prepare third-string QB Boston Goode for the season opener.
“We have some young players in positions, and we have a lot of players who have played well,” Danley said. “I would not use our youth as an excuse but we had generally speaking, four interceptions, and otherwise did some good things given the circumstances. Goode didn’t do too bad in his debut.”
In his first time as a signal caller, Goode began the game by connecting on his first four passes, Danley said.
“Honestly, he hit his first assistant, was 4-of-4 and was in pretty good shape,” Danley said. “Understandably, he threw that one pick-six and there was a little miscommunication with the wide receivers and the timing. That’s just the way it is and I thought he actually started off well right off the bat and was fairly effective with his short passes.”
Polson showcased their resilience after trailing 20-0 at the end of the first half. In the third quarter, the Pirates settled down and began surging back when Goode connected with WR Parker Toth on a 7-yard touchdown pass, reducing the deficit 20-6. After this, the Pirates failed to connect on a two-point conversion.
In the fourth quarter, Kordell Walker further narrowed the deficit with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown. Goode connected with Ryker Wenderoth on an 80-yard touchdown pass to narrow the deficit to 26-18 until Stevi was able to end all scoring with a safety.
“It was a strange game and there were weird plays on both sides of the ball,” Danley said. “Stevi recovered a kick after a safety and two pick-sixes, and we all created a lot of turnovers. I was particularly excited about the resilience but it seems like it took a long time to change possessions and turnovers. Obviously our team doesn’t want to settle for moral victories but we have to put an emphasis on the positive side of competing. The kids did well in the varsity game and generally, I am pretty happy with how (our team) competed.”
Pirates prepare for week two battles with Beavers
Goode, who will now have an extra week of practice reps with the first team, will get his team ready to take on perennial powerhouse Dillon.
Danley has put an emphasis that the name of the uniform will not psychologically defeat his team.
“I don’t want to get beat by the Dillon uniform,” Danley said. “If they are better than us and are physically better than us, that is one thing, but I don’t’ want (our players) to be in awe of the blue and gold uniform. Just because they are successful doesn’t mean they have to be successful against us on Friday night.”
The Beavers had a “week zero” bye, which means they’ll host the Pirates for their home season opener Friday night in Dillon.
“We were able to get some scrimmage film from them a week ago, and we are working on some things from last year that will look similar,” Danley said. “The last I heard they settled on the quarterback and we can expect them to be well-coached. They are not trying to beat themselves but we want to beat them and win that game.”
In order to prepare for a team Danley hasn’t seen, they are going to revert to film from last season.
“The two best players graduated and I don’t have any specific names of the kids from that,” Danley said. “Typically, even if they graduated good kids, they’ll find people and just reload.”