LHS football in first State championship since 2002

Connor Waddingham
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Linger  The Laurel Locomotive football team runs out of the tunnel and onto the field for their playoff game against Libby on Nov. 9. Laurel will face off against Miles City for the State Championship Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. in Miles City.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Linger

The Laurel Locomotive football team runs out of the tunnel and onto the field for their playoff game against Libby on Nov. 9. Laurel will face off against Miles City for the State Championship Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. in Miles City.

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Photo courtesy of Kathleen Linger
          
            Locomotives defensive players Colter Bales (#29), Shel Osborne (#51), and Cameron Younger (#22) after Laurel made a stop against Libby.

The Laurel Locomotives have taken down the Dillon (Beaverhead) Beavers to move onto the State championship. The Locos are now onto their first State championship since winning it in 2002. The Locos travelled to Dillon for this semifinals matchup and their first meet- ing with Dillon this year. Laurel scored 21 points in the first quarter, then did not score the rest of the game. Dillon scored six points in both the second and third quarters, but that was all the scoring they had in them. Laurel forced two turnovers in the fourth quarter to help secure their victory and punch their ticket to the State championship. They found out a day later that they would be taking on Miles City in Custer County for the State chipper after the Cowboys defeated the Broncs of Hamilton on Saturday, Nov.

16.

Nov. 15

Laurel 21 Dillon 12

1 2 3 4 F LAU 210 0 0 — 21 DIL 0 6 6 0 — 12

The Locomotives received the open- ing kick off in this game. Their first drive consisted of nine straight run plays, before the Locos pulled off a “quick punt” which was a game-changing play. A quick punt is where the offense lines up like they’re going to attempt to run a play on fourth down, the quarterback hikes the ball, and then catches the defense off guard by punting the ball downfield. The Beavers had no one downfield to receive the punt, as they were caught off guard, and the Locos downed the ball all the way at the threeyard line.

The Beavers’ first drive lasted just over a minute. They were forced to punt and the Locomotives special teams unit came through in the clutch. They blocked the Dillon punt and got the ball back at the two-yard line. Ethan Renner punched in an easy touchdown on the next play and Tyler Emineth’s successful extrapoint attempt put the Locos up 7-0.

Dillon’s next drive was another threeand-out.

Then, Laurel took over and ended their drive in two plays. Ethan Renner received a first-down handoff and took it 72 yards to the one–yard line. He scored on the very next hand–off to help increase Laurel’s lead to 14.

Dillon’s next drive resulted in another three–and–out, and another blocked punt. This time, the blocked punt was recovered by the Locomotives and scooped up for a touchdown. Jakob Webinger was the Loco who scored the fumble recovery touchdown, and Emi- neth scored a PAT to put Laurel up by three scores, 21–0.

Dillon took over at the end of the first quarter and retained possession after the segue to the second quarter. After draw- ing a defensive penalty and getting their first first down of the game, the Beavers had passes gaining 40 yards and 13 yards to pick up two more first downs in a row. On third and seven later on in the drive, the Beavers ran for 14 yards to get the ball down at the three–yard line. Dillon scored on the next play, but the Locos were able to block the extra point to only allow six points.

Laurel’s next drive lasted over nine minutes and ran out the rest of the clock in the second quarter. Their fifteen play drive ended with no points, but it ended the half with the Locos up 21–6. Their defense allowed just two first downs in the half, while Laurel’s offense moved the chains seven different times, including five times on their last drive of the quarter. Laurel’s special teams was flawless in this first half as well, and they were a big part in the Loco’s 21-point quarter.

The Beavers started their opening drive at the 50-yard line after a personal foul against the Locos during the kickoff. The Beavers’ drive didn’t go as planned, as they turned the ball over after a failed fourth-down conversion. The very next play, though, Eli Aby threw an interception. Aby had thrown

just one pass all game before that throw.

On the ensuing Beaverhead County drive, the Beavers started with good field position. They gained 15 yards on three runs before completing a 14–yard touchdown pass. Laurel committed pass inter- ference on the play, but Dillon declined the penalty and left their touchdown to stand. Their PAT was once again no good, so the Locos led 21–12 after the score. This served as the last score by either team in this game.

Laurel’s next drive was a three–and– out, but almost ended with another turn- over. Aby fumbled the ball near the 30– yard line, but the offense was able to recover it. Beau Dantic then booted a 37–yard punt.

The Beavers’ next drive lasted the final 5:30 of the third quarter. They picked up one initial first down, but were later forced into a fourth–and–22 situation. During the punt, a Laurel special teams player ran into the Beavers’ punter to commit a running into the kicker penalty. That is what the referee called on the field, but he enforced the 15 yards and automatic first down as if he were calling a roughing the kicker penalty. So, after the mistake by the ref, the Beavers were award another first down. They were

unable to take advantage and ran for no gain on their fourth–and–three attempt at the end of the drive.

After the turnover on downs, posses- sion came back to the Locos.

The Locos eventually punted and Dil- lon took over, looking to cut into the Loco lead late in this game. They picked up a couple of long gains through the air, including a 23-yard completion on fourth–and–four. The next play, however, the Beavers tried to take a shot to the endzone, and Eli Aby was there to make the clutch interception. He intercepted the ball in the end zone for a touchback. The Locos next drive took about 3:30 off of the game clock. They ended up punt- ing, and the Beavers took over with 3:35 left in the game. They picked up a couple of first downs during this drive, but with two minutes left in the game, the Locos forced a fumble and a turnover. A huge play from the defense allowed the Locos to take over and run the clock out. They ended the game, and punched their ticket to their first Class A State championship since 2002.

Laurel’s defense played their best football when it mattered most. Two clutch turnovers in the fourth quarter to take over and run the clock out. They ended the game, and punched their ticket to their first Class A State championship since 2002.

Laurel’s defense played their best football when it mattered most. Two clutch turnovers in the fourth quarter helped Laurel nullify any source of momentum that Dillon started to pick up.

Offensively, Ethan Renner once again led the way. He ran the ball 15 times, for 121 yards and two touchdowns. His 72-yard rush in the first quarter was the biggest play of the evening by either team.

Laurel now moves onto the State championship, and will take on the only team that they have lost to this year: the Miles City (Custer County) Cowboys. The Locos only game decided by less than 22 points during their regular season was their game against the Cowboys. Custer County beat Laurel 21–16 in Laurel on Sept. 13. Considering that game was on Friday the

13th, will the Locos have better luck this go around?

Miles City scored 21 points in the first half and led 21-0 at the end of the half. The Locos clawed their way back into the game during the second half, but a crucial turnover with 2:39 left in the game killed their progress. They scored a late safety and an even later touchdown, and the final play came to a hail mary with three second remaining after a recovered onside kick by the Locos. Aby’s pass didn’t quite make it to the endzone and, looking back in retrospect, the incompletion ended Laurel’s chances of a perfect season. This time, Laurel will be seeking their revenge. The last three meetings between the Locos and the Cowboys have been decided by five points or less. The Locos have not beat the Cowboys since Sept. 2 of 2017, where Laurel beat Custer County 34-30. If history truly repeats itself, we could be in for a very entertain- ing State title game. Good luck to the Locomotives on their quest for their first State title in 17 years!

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Upcoming Events

Monday, December 9, 2019
• Christmas to Remember meeting, second Monday, 1 p.m., at Reese & Ray’s IGA, call 248-8557 for information
Monday, December 9, 2019
• Council Catholic Women (CCW), second Monday, 6:30 p.m., St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Monday, December 16, 2019
Corinthian Lodge No. 72, AF&AM, first & third Monday, 7:30 p.m., Masonic Temple, Laurel Masonic Temple, 9900 Airport Road (except July-August)

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