The Wildcats may have come up short in their opening football game of the year at Polson Friday, but head coach Jaxon Schweikert isn’t worried.
After Friday’s 20-6 loss to the Pirates, Schweikert and his coaching staff were quick to point out to the Wildcat players that Columbia Falls has lost in either the first or second week of the season the past two years and those two teams won a state title and reached the state semi-finals.
“I think there is huge room for improvement. It’s all about effort, and we got that. Now, we just go fix our techniques and our schemes and we will be fine,” Schweikert said after the game. “There were times in the game when we didn’t have a single senior on the field. We got a lot of good experience and that will help us learn and get better quickly. The future still looks bright for us.”
The young Cats came into Friday’s matchup with no scouting report on the new-look Pirates, who are in their first year under new head coach Kaden Glinsmann.
With the Wildcats having to make adjustments on the fly, Columbia Falls struggled to find the end zone, settling for only a pair of Niels Getts field goals for the team’s only points of the contest while the Polson defense picked off six Wildcat passes.
The defense held Polson in check for most of the game, but gave up 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after the team entered the period tied at six all.
“We played hard, but we were at a big disadvantage in that we had no idea what Polson was going to run coming into this game. We have a very young team, so it is hard to make adjustments right now,” Schweikert said.
The Cats opened the game with a promising drive, but settled for a 25-yard Getts field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 2:37 to play in the opening quarter and would take that lead into the halftime break.
A pass intended for Cade Morgan was picked off by Polson’s Boston Goode early in the third quarter and helped set up a 55-yard pass from Bo Kelley to Kaleb Unger to give the Pirates a 6-3 lead with 6:09 to play in the quarter.
Wildcat quarterback Mason Peters answered with a 42-yard pass to Bryce Seymore to set up a the Cat offense on the 12-yard line, but his next pass was picked off in the end zone.
Brayden Stone picked off a Kelley pass to get the ball back to the Cats’ offense moments later and Getts was able to tie the game with a 24-yard field goal with 1:17 to play in the third.
It was all Polson in the fourth quarter as the Pirates scored on a 38-yard pass from Kelley to Trevor Shultz and a 49-yard run by Dugan Davis to break the game open.
Peters led the Wildcat offense with 190 passing yards and 20 more on the ground, but finished 18-31 passing with six interceptions.
Isaac Balla and Easton Sempf both ran for 48 yards to lead the Wildcat rushing attack while Seymore had two receptions for 49 yards to lead the receivers. Jaxon Heinz also had three catches for 29 yards.
The Wildcats will back in action Friday as they travel to Ronan to face the Chiefs at 7 p.m.