Laurel football takes second at state

Connor Waddingham
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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Senior Cameron Younger running through a hole against Miles City in his final high school football game. Photos courtesy of Gloria Allwin

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Senior Taggert Devaney returning a kick in his final high school football game against Miles City.

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Your 2019 Laurel Locomotives football team holding up their 2nd place trophy.

Laurel football’s magical season has finally come to an end. They did not achieve what they were hoping to achieve, but nonetheless, it was the most successful season of Laurel Loco- motive football in nearly two decades.

The Locomotives travelled to Miles City on Saturday to take on the Cowboys of Custer County in the MHSA Class A State Championship game. It was a brisk day at Connor’s Stadium in Miles City, but there was still a vibrant championship atmosphere created by both the home fans, and the traveling Laurel supporters. The game’s feel did not represent the 35-7 final score; it seemed much more close through the first three quarters. Untimely mistakes by the Locomotives ultimately cost them the game, in the end.

Nov. 23, Laurel 7 Custer County 35

1 2 3 4 F LAU 0 0 7 0 7 MC 7 7 7 1435

The Locomotives won the coin toss, and elected to defer to the second half. The Cowboys drive down the field, converting three first downs before taking a shot at the end zone. Emmet Renner came up big on the first long pass of the day, breaking up the wouldbe touchdown. A few plays later, Emmet and Danner Purkett both had another big pass breakup in the endzone. The very next play, however, Miles City’s quarterback dropped back, felt the pressure, then ran into the open gap on the left side of the end zone. The Cowboys’ opening drive was over half of the first quarter, and resulted in seven points. 7-0 Custer County.

The Locos opening drive didn’t have much go for them. They ran five straight plays, and the drive ended in a punt. On the Cowboys first play of their next drive, Jayden Venable went up and made a great catch, to which he then fumbled and turned the ball over to the Locos. Keagan Campbell came up with the strip on the play, Emmet Renner with the recovery, and that set up the Locos with decent field position.

Laurel took over on the Cowboys 30 yard-line, and the first play of the drive was a huge pitch-and-catch from Eli Aby to Jack Waddell. Waddell climbed the imaginary ladder as he went up to make a catch over two defenders. Cameron Younger ran for 15 yards on the ensuing play. An Ethan Renner rush ended this action packed first quarter of play.

On third and 17 later in this drive, the Aby-Waddell connection came up in the clutch, gaining just enough for the first down. However, two plays later, the Locos coughed the ball up in the red zone and allowed the Cowboys to recover it.

Miles City were unable to capitalize on the first Laurel turnover of the day, and wound up turning it over themselves. Jess Bellows, typically the team’s go-to wide receiver, through a pass deep down the field that was intercepted by senior Keagan Campbell. His first interception of the season couldn’t have come at a better time for his team.

However, the bad luck for the Locos continued on offense. Ethan Renner and Cameron Younger were running hard the first plays of the drive, but on the fourth play, Younger fumbled for the second time in as many drives and it was recovered by the Cowboys. The Cowboys went three and out on their next drive, as did the Locomotives.

Custer County regained possession with 1:38 left in the first half, and drove all the way down the field to score a touchdown right before the half. This drive was just five plays, 87 yards, and seven points. 14-0 Cowboys was the score going into halftime.

The Locos received the opening kickoff in the second half. Ethan Renner started the drive off with an 18-yard carry. Two plays later, Younger caught a screen pass and took in 11 yards for a first down. That was all the Locos had in them for this drive. They wound up punting, and pinning the Cowboys within the 15-yard line.

The field position did not matter for Custer County. On the second play of the drive, Jess Bellows ran a deep post route and caught the ball about 30 yards downfield and ran it the rest of the way. It was an 84-yard score for the Cowboys, which put them up 21-0 after the PAT from Bellows.

Laurel then went on it’s longest drive of the afternoon. It was a 14 play drive, but the Locos were unable to score. The Locos were faced with a 3rd and goal, followed by a fourth and goal, and both of those plays resulted in incompletions. The Cowboys played stellar red zone defense all game long.

The next Cowboys drive went nowhere, and Waddell’s punt return gave the Locos an extra 30 yards to help them score their first TD of the game. That they did, on a swing pass to Ethan Renner. The senior leader took it 53 yards to the house to score his 23rd touchdown of the year, accountable for nearly half of Laurel’s total of 50. Renner finished his senior season with 1,265 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns.

The scoreboard read 21-7 at the end of the third quarter. The defense, however, showed it’s fatigue in the fourth. The Cowboys were able to juice half of the time in the fourth quarter off of the clock on their eventual game-sealing touch- down drive. The Cowboys went up 28-7 midway through the fourth, then forced and recovered a fumble on the following kickoff. Miles City scored a touchdown shortly after this, to put the game well out of reach. Eli Aby threw an interception on the last play of the season for the Loco’s offense, and the Cowboys ran the rest of the clock out. The Miles City Cowboys were crowned 2019 Class A State Champions with this win on their home field. The Locomotives, however, take home their first second place trophy in nearly 20 years, so it was a very successful season overall.

This was the last game for a lot of important players on the Locomotive team. Previously mentioned, future All-State running back Ethan Renner has now finished his football career as a Locomotive.

Keagan Campbell was an integral part of the offense and the defense for the past two years. He finished this season with 27 catches for 409 yards and five touchdowns.

Although he had a rough start to the State championship, it’s hard to mention this group of seniors without addressing Cameron Younger. He was freight train out of the backfield and off of the edge on defense, and was a big part of the Locos team this season. He ran the ball 73 times this year, for 419 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a handful of big plays on defense this season, as well.

Danner Purckett was another player whom was very solid on defense, but was seldom used on offense. He did, however, score an 11-yard touchdown through the air in the Locos first playoff game.

Taggert Devaney was a player who did it all. He caught passes, ran the ball, returned kicks, and played all of the place on defense. Although he only played one season of football, his speed will be missed on the time.

Donnie Maurer was a team captain, and the team will miss his presence in the locker room next season.

Congrats to all of these seniors on great careers as Locomotives, and being apart of the team to finally end the streak against Central, along with outlasting the State title game draught! These players helped this team elevate to new heights this season, and will be missed by the rest of the team.

The 2020 Locomotives football team will look fairly similar to how it looked this year. Eli Aby will be back at quarterback, along with his new favorite target, Jack Waddell. The 5’11 receiver is regarded as one of the best WRs in the 2021 class out of Montana.

Cornerstones of the defense, such as Shel Osborne and Emmet Renner, will return and look to build off this dominant defensive season the Locomotives just had. Shel is a promising player at his linebacker position, and Emmet has the size to be an excellent cornerback for another two years.

Congrats to these Laurel Locos on their amazing journey of a football season. Although it didn’t end how they had pictured, their second place trophy can be used as motivation to get that first place trophy next season. The Laurel Outlook will begin their coverage of the 2020 football season in August!


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