For the Thompson Falls Blue Hawks 8-man football team, their road to the state championship game ended Saturday near the North Dakota state line.
Scoring early and often, the Fairview Warriors ended Thompson Falls’ title hopes, routing the Bluehawks 66-6 in a game 655 miles from home.
The win moves the now Warriors (10-0) on to the Montana state semifinals where they will face Fort Benton.
The loss closed out the Bluehawks season with a 9-2 overall record.
Both of Thompson Falls’ losses came at the hands of teams still alive in the semis, Fairview and unbeaten regional rival Clark Fork.
Fairview got on the scoreboard first when, after stopping the Bluehawks and forcing them to punt, Cody Asbeck returned the kick 55 yards to give Fairview a 6-0 lead. The Warriors added to that tally later in the first quarter on an 18-yard TD toss from Alex Schriver to Jesse Selting. A failed point after conversion attempt left the score at 12-0 as the opening quarter came to an end.
Fairview’s scoring barrage continued in the second quarter when Schriver scored on a 1-yard plunge. A successful two-point conversion run boosted the Warrior lead to 20-0. Another defense stop gave the ball back to Fairview and they capped the ensuing drive with a 3-yard scoring trot by Easton Hopes to give the host team a 26-0 lead.
Before the half ended, Fairview tacked on another TD on another short, 4-yard run by Asbeck and a successful two-point dive by Hopes upping the score to 34-0 as the opening half came to a close.
Thompson Falls, which played the season in honor of teammate Luke Comerford, who died in June, came out strong to start the second half when sophomore Alex Vogelsang raced 45 yards with the kickoff to finally put the Bluehawks on the board.
From there it was all Fairview. Asbeck scored on two runs, one from 7 yards out, the other from 6 yards. Successful point after runs on both touchdowns gave the Warriors a 50-6 lead and kept the game clocking running under the 35-point lead rule. Before the third quarter came to an end, Schriver hooked up with Hunter Sharbono on a 25-yard touchdown catch and run. Schriver then ran in for the two-point conversion, upping Fairview’s advantage to 58-6 as the quarter came to an end.
The Warriors would add yet another score, this one a 4-yard burst that, when coupled with a 2-point PAT run, ran the score to an ominous 66-6 at game’s end.
The lopsided loss put an end to an otherwise successful season for the Bluehawks.
Looking ahead to next year, the team will need to replace eight seniors, including standout quarterback/linebacker Trey Fisher. Fisher excelled on both sides of the ball, leading the team in tackles and directing the potent Bluehawks offense with his running and throwing skills. Also due to graduate is running back Nate Wilhite, who has also been a key factor on defense.
Other seniors who made solid contributions to this year’s team and will have to be replaced include two-way lineman Jack Jacobson, fellow two-way linemen Brad Lantz and Justin Miller, tight end Dakota Irvine, tight end/defensive back Carson Alexander and wide receiver Brandon Zimmerman.
Waiting in the wings is a solid group of talented juniors and sophomores and a large group of junior high players. Junior lineman Cody Burk, a 6-3, 261-pound standout, will be among the returnees, along with Vogelsang and wide receiver Roman Sparks.