Newly unranked Capital (4-2) took quite a tumble from its No. 1 spot in the polls after last week’s 41-7 home loss to Billings West, and head coach Pat Murphy knows his team has little margin for error the rest of the season if they hope to make another run at the AA playoffs.
“From here on out they’re all must-win games,” Murphy said. “We’ve got the meat of our schedule coming up here now, and our backs are against the wall. We have to win this game.”
The Bruins appear to have a golden opportunity to get back on a roll when winless Flathead (0-6) brings the state’s worst defense (46.2 points, 484.2 yards allowed per game) into Vigilante Stadium tonight.
Capital managed just 128 yards rushing — more than 120 below its current average — in the meltdown that followed senior quarterback Cale Jacobsen reinjuring his knee against West. All-state senior running back Gunnar Brekke accounted for just 34 of those yards. The Braves, though, are allowing an average of 245.5 yards on the ground, and will likely be in for an extensive dose of Brekke and company.
“A big key is our offensive line — if we can regroup there,” said Murphy after the unit struggled with its down-blocking a week ago. “We have to establish our running game against this Flathead defense. … They’ve been getting better the last few games.”
The Flathead offense, fifth in the state with a respectable 148 rushing yards per game, will bring in a prime example of the scrambling quarterback that the Bruins have struggled to contain this season in Matt Tokarz.
The senior has accounted for 250.3 total yards (170.5 passing, 79.8 rushing) per game thus far — a whopping 77 percent of his team’s total offense.
“In their spread offense, (Tokarz) is outstanding,” Murphy said. “He’s a great runner, he can throw the ball and he’s got great skill players around him. They can move the ball against anyone with that offense.
“They’re going to be a tough opponent right now.”