Beavers open playoff at Sidney

By 
J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
STATS

The Dillon Beavers completed their run of seven straight victories following two losses to open the season to secure fifth place in the Western A with a 28-0 win at Ronan on Thursday night. Dillon countered a defense intent on stopping Dillon’s running game with a passing attack featuring sophomore quarterback Kee Christiansen and senior receiver Jonathan Kirkley. Christiansen threw 32 passes and completed 19 for 263 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Kirkley hauled in 5 of the throws for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

“There were things that were pretty good, and there were some things that suck and we just have to fix them,” said Dillon coach Zach McRae on Monday. “Football is really hard and it is really hard to win, so we don’t ever want to take that for granted. To start 0-2 and to dig ourselves out of that is impressive. Nobody did that for them, the players dug themselves out of that hole.”

According to McRae, Ronan devised a game plan to slow the pace and kill the clock while shutting down Dillon’s running game.

“Our defense pitched a shutout, and if their score is zero at the end of the game, that is pretty darn favorable for us,” said the Dillon coach. “Ronan did a very good job choking the game. They got a couple of first downs and you could tell they were very cognizant of the clock.”

Dillon gained just 66 yards rushing on 16 carries.

“We’re as healthy as can be,” said McRae. “They stacked the box on us and we threw the ball around the park a little bit. Jon Kirkley is continuing to carry the load for our passing game, and Kee Christiansen continues to develop. We really feel confident that if a team wants to take Jon Kirkley away, we have plenty of options to go elsewhere.”

CLASS A PLAYOFF

The Dillon Beavers, the #5-seed from the Western A, earned a trip to Sidney to face the Eagles, the #4-seed from the Eastern A. Dillon won a nonconference game between the two teams at a neutral site in Billings in week 4, 36-14.

Both teams have improved dramatically since the meeting at Lockwood High School. Sidney beat Miles City and Glendive in winning three of their final four games to get into the playoffs.

The Beavers went on a 7-0 run after opening with 2 losses, to get in the playoff mix.

“Sidney is an Eastern A team and they have that mind-set where they are going to pound you,” said McRae. “They have four formations and they are not overly complicated. They pride themselves on lining up and smashing it down your throat.”

McRae says Sidney’s top offensive threat is quarterback Zander Dean, (5-10, 165) a junior quarterback.

“Zander Dean is very fast and as elusive a runner as we have played,” said McRae. “He throws the ball, but we feel his effectiveness is in the running game.”

Adam Graves, a 5-8, 180 senior running back and Dean account for about 85 per cent of Sidney’s offense, so Dillon knows what they have to stop. McRae says Sidney has run about 75 per cent of the time on offense.

The first time the teams met, Dillon unveiled a Jumbo Set and pounded the ball at Sidney.

Class A has changed their playoff bracket this year and will reset the seeds after the first round. The West has 7 teams in and the East has 5. Each of the 12 teams have been given a number and higher seeds host lower seeds in the second round.

BYES: #1 Laurel, #2 Hamilton. #3 Lewistown. #4 Polson.

First Round: #9 Miles City at #4 Columbia Falls; #12 Libby at #5 Billings Central; #10 Dillon at #5 Sidney; #11 Frenchtown at @ 6 Whitefish.

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