Polson QB Jarrett Wilson has Pirates offense flying high in resurgent season

LANCE HARTZLER Missoulian [email protected] Oct 13, 2021

Polson Jarrett Wilson Scramble
photo – Bob Gunderson

MISSOULA — Polson Pirates star quarterback Jarrett Wilson has recorded some eye-popping passing numbers this year, but last week against Havre, the junior slinger did something different that wowed both his head coach and fans in attendance.
On the first play of a drive, third-year Pirates head coach Kaden Glinsmann and his staff called a deep pass play to try to catch the Havre defense off guard. That makes sense considering the Pirates run a shorter passing scheme centered around Wilson’s accuracy — 72% at the moment — and the speedy wideouts who flank him in the offense.vrd line, Wilson dropped back and immediately noticed the blown pass coverage. He slid to his left around a rusher and blew past the rest of the Havre defense for a season-best 80-yard touchdown run.
“I saw a hole and they were in man coverage and thought that I would get, I don’t know, at least 10 yards,” Wilson said Monday during an interview. “I wasn’t really thinking I would get 80, which was exhausting honestly. … I was so tired and, like, oh my gosh I hadn’t ran that far since track season.”
The game ended with a 42-14 Polson win as Wilson threw for 301 yards and five TDs to keep the Pirates undefeated at 7-0.
Playing the way Polson does, with the high volume of throws, the scramble drills are bound to come. So the team does practice it, but not as much after doing it “a ton” last season, only brushing up on it during the fall camp because of the eight upperclassmen who returned at receiver.
Glinsmann embraces Wilson extending plays. He trusts the young quarterback, who is disciplined about those freelance plays in a way some slingers might not be. Wilson doesn’t really look to run, with 35 carries on the season — the burst against Havre excluded. He looks to get the ball to a deep group of receivers when he breaks out of the pocket and eludes tackles.
“We’re thinking we are coaching this high school kid, so we are teaching him these high school-type football situations. Instead, he is next level,” Glinsmann said. “He is thinking about ‘I wouldn’t slide there because it wasn’t this exact right situation’ or ‘I wouldn’t take off because it wasn’t this situation.’ … He is just thinking leaps and bounds ahead to even where we would as a staff.”
Glinsmann called Wilson’s football IQ through the roof and his accuracy uncanny, and the stats back his claim up. Wilson has thrown for 34 touchdowns, zero interceptions, 2,087 yards on 347.8 yards per game and has a QB rating of 144.3 — a perfect passer rating is 158.3 — and he has been as close to perfect as a quarterback in a pass-heavy offense can be. He leads 11-Man football, regardless of class according to stats compiled on MaxPreps.com, in passing touchdowns, yards, yards per game and is the only QB with at least 100 passes thrown without an interception.
It’s safe to say the junior, in his second year starting as the Pirates QB, is in the middle of a massive breakout season.
“He is just one of those special, once-in-a lifetime type guys that you get coming through a program. We are just so fortunate to have him and thankfully have him for another year.” Glinsmann said.
If you ask Wilson about his talent he is soft spoken and humble. He knows what he is doing but gives credit to his coaches and teammates.
“I don’t know about that,” Wilson said about his coach’s comments about his abilities. “He is just hyping me up, maybe a little too much. … I’m not just better, but our team is a lot better too. Our coaches do a good job of easing our offense to spread the ball out. It makes it a lot harder on defense when they have to worry about several guys catching the ball, not just one guy. I have a good relationship with all of them, we are all really good friends, and we’ve worked hard together starting in my sophomore year and from then our relationship has just grown.”
This season, five Pirates have caught at least 15 passes, and a trio of seniors have caught at least 31 to give the team a three-headed attack at the top of the depth chart. Colton Graham has 38 receptions, 648 yards and nine TDs, Xavier Fisher has 33 catches for 448 and eight touchdowns, and Robert Perez has 31 snags for 433 yard and five scores.
Football in the family
Wilson is a triplet, with his two brothers, Trent and Colter, manning the defense at linebacker. But the football bloodlines go even further for the trio.
Their eldest brother Tanner Wilson — who was a quarterback for the Montana Grizzlies in 2017 and 18 before leaving the team in spring 2019 — was a star for Polson, leading the Pirates to their most recent winning season in 2016 when the squad went 7-3 and won the Northwest A title playing under their dad, former Missoula Big Sky QB Scott Wilson.
“Everybody grew up around football,” Scott said Wednesday. “ … Growing up, the triplets had football, whether it was practice, going to games, following big brother around, all of those things.”
While Scott, now an MHSA assistant director, never coached Jarrett, Trent or Colter at the high school level, the former Big Sky player and at one point coach will impart some advice to his sons.
“He is still just as much as a head coach as he has always been,” Jarret said. “I never had him as my head coach, but he is still giving me pointers.”
Pirates resurgence
The last time Polson was this good was in fact when a Wilson was the quarterback. Things have come full circle so to say.
Jarret led the team to a 4-5 record last season as a sophomore, and now the team has exploded with newfound dominance.
The Pirates are in the middle of their best season, even better than Tanner’s 2016 team, since going 9-1 in 2012. The current edition of the Pirates are 7-0 with two games left against Browning and No. 5 Whitefish (7-0) in the regular-season finale in Whitefish.
The Pirates have outscored opponents 307-48, with the closest game coming against Columbia Falls, which ended as a 37-0 shutout in favor of Polson.

Unbeaten Polson Pirates living up to lofty expectations as season hits midway point

Katelyn Pitching

MISSOULA — Polson’s softball players hung their heads as they stared down at the left field grass on Frenchtown’s No. 3 softball field on an overcast, windy Saturday afternoon.

They had just ended a game without a win for the first time this season. They didn’t lose either, but the looks on the players’ faces sure made it seem like the Class A Pirates had lost when they finished in a 2-2 tie with Class B/C Mission-Arlee-Charlo in an extra-inning game.

Polson dropped to a still-impressive 11-0-1, a record that many teams around the state would love to have midway through the season. As they clapped their hands to break the postgame meeting, coach Jami Hanson had left them with a message that this was a result that should be beneficial going forward for the team that’s widely considered the state title favorite in Class A.

“That’s exactly what we needed,” Hanson said. “You’ve got to have that adversity in games every once in a while because that’s the only thing that makes you better. You want those games because you don’t want to get to state and then get in your first dogfight and not know how to handle it. We can learn from this.”

Polson isn’t expecting to only get to state; the Pirates believe they’re capable of winning state. They nearly did that in 2019, finishing as the State A runner-up while being powered by a large contingent of sophomores and being led by Hanson, who was in his first season replacing Larry Smith, who had led the Pirates to seven state titles in 31 years. They were hoping to make a return trip to the title game in 2020 before the pandemic canceled the season.

This spring, the Pirates have back one junior and four seniors who played big roles in the 2019 state tournament when they were underclassmen. That experience gives them a leg up on some of their competition, who lack similar numbers of returning starters, let alone that many players with any previous varsity experience, because of the long layoff since the last season.

“The expectations are high again. Absolutely,” Hanson said, noting that he anticipates both his team and MAC to end the year with titles. “We expect big things. These girls have done a lot of work to put themselves in this position.”

The Pirates have steamrolled their competition by outscoring them 189-17 through 12 games. They already own a 13-0 win last week over Frenchtown, the leader in the Southwest A, and an 18-6 win Friday over Lewistown, the presumptive champ in the Northeast A.

They also have a 10-2 win over Columbia Falls and a 12-0 victory against Libby, the two teams that were expected to be their toughest competition in their conference. The only other Class A team without a loss is Laurel, the leader in the Southeast A.

“I strongly believe that softball on our side of the state is tough. Really tough,” Hanson said. “We just haven’t seen a pitcher like (MAC’s Kooper) Page, who spins the ball really well. We needed a game like this because we haven’t gotten to see stuff like that yet.”

Polson is powered by five seniors in Josie Caye, SaVanna Carpentier, Kobbey Smith, Lexy Orien and Mossy Kauley. Caye was an all-state shortstop in 2019, Carpentier and Smith were all-conference honorable mention picks, and Orien started in the 2019 state tournament.

Polson also has the pitching prowess with junior Katelyne Druyvestein, who’s been the team’s ace after she was second-team all-conference in 2019. She’s started all 12 games and has allowed just 10 runs on 30 hits while striking out 84 compared to 15 walks. The two runs she allowed against MAC were both unearned as a two-out error led to them ending the game in a tie.

“She’s a really good pitcher, moves the ball around, has a nice curve, her rise ball is really nasty,” MAC coach Shane Reum said after the tie. “She’s a really seasoned pitcher and has a really good defense behind her as well. They’re just an all-around solid team.”

The Pirates will now test themselves by playing up a classification against Class AA teams Glacier and Flathead on Tuesday and Thursday. It’ll also be a chance for them to see how they bounce back from not winning a game as they continue preparing themselves for the state tournament May 27-29.


Building and maintaining an athletic program

When I first came to Polson in the summer of 1976 I never knew that I had found a home where I would spend the rest of my life. I was a math teacher at the high school and an assistant boys basketball coach and head track coach. Having never had the reigns of a boys track and field program, I was most apprehensive in that area. I knew that Polson had a pretty good history of fielding competitive teams in track and field with their most recent championship coming in 1974. That first year was a learning experience. Only two of the returning boys had been to the state track meet the year before and less than 20 turned out for track that spring. At the divisional that year, I was able to watch a veteran coach from Hamilton named Lloyd Clark. He had one of the top programs in Western Montana and his teams were consistently at the top of the Western A division. I absorbed as much from him as I could during the meets that first year.

After attending STATE that year I knew that I would have to do something different with our program to build it back to being a consistent contender. The task ahead for me as a head coach seemed awesome and I felt a little apprehensive as to whether it could be accomplished. We needed to get more kids out and the coaching staff had to be knowledgeable and effective and motivated. My goal in the beginning and throughout all the years was to create a program where kids were successful as individuals and team oriented as a group. Although track and field is a sport made up of a number of individual events, I soon found out that team success was huge when it came to motivating kids to do give their best effort. Track and field events are technique events and each event requires a lot of practice and hard work. Leadership is extremely important. I needed leadership in the athletes and the coaches to build success. Polson was good to me in both areas. Over the years we gathered an outstanding group of coaches and the Polson area provided us with quality athletes to work with.

Question was, what could I do that might go above and beyond what had been done in the past to build and maintain a successful program. I wanted the athletes at PHS to be motivated and want to be part of our program. I needed the athletes in our school to come out and want to be part of a program in the spring of the year. Many were ready to take a break at that time. I very much needed the cooperation of coaches in other programs and the encouragement they could provide to compete in the spring. This is harder than it sounds as many coaches are centered in “their” programs.

How do I begin? First I decided to attend coaching clinics on a regular basis and encouraged my assistants to do likewise. I decided to have an overall plan for the many parts of the season with individual planning for every practice. I started with a publication that I placed in the commons on a weekly basis called “Pirate Tracks”. It was totally about the kids in our program. Individuals were highlighted on a weekly basis and team and individual results appeared in every issue throughout the season. I also started keeping track of every athlete in every event for every class A athlete in the state of Montana. I ranked them and kids in our program and provided a weekly update. These updates were handed out at a meeting that I started having every Monday before the weeks practices started. Kids were able to see where they stood statewide in their events. All athletes were rewarded for “personal best performances” at these meetings. The goal was to be ranked in the top six in the state in each event. I also kept fantasy team scores based on the marks that were recorded. Athletes always knew exactly where they stood on a statewide basis. Needless to say, I never ran out of things to do on Sundays throughout the season.

I worked hard at obtaining complete uniforms and equipment for the program. Anyone that has coached a field event knows the importance of the “right” discus or the “correct” pole for the pole vault. And we wanted our athletes to look good and to represent the community of Polson in the best possible way. I said many times that when arriving at a meet I wanted other schools to see us coming and know that they would be in for a battle that day. PRIDE in themselves and the program they were part of was a huge part of our success over the years.

Coaches going home early from practice was not an option. Flexibility was important when dealing with our individual athletes. I encourage multiple events but it was not a requirement. Get them out for something, get them interested, and maybe multiple events would happened for them. Many times you could find our coaches working past 7:00 at night (practice started at 3:45) with individual athletes. I can’t begin to thank all of the coaches for the effort that they put forth. As the head coach, I was always the last one out and locked the gate and closed down the locker room.

At some point about 2/3 of the way through the season the entire team went to one of the local “ice cream” shops where I treated them to whatever they wanted (within reason of course). Was kind of expensive when the turnout in the boys program alone stretched into the 60’s and 70’s but the fellowship and memories were priceless.

It was amazing how fast things started heading in the right direction. We had some very good seasons and some great seasons over the next 30 plus years. Our coaching staff underwent some changes over those years but I was always able to fill positions with qualified people. Some of the people came from the ranks of athletes that had gone through the program at PHS. Once again I reflect on how “lucky” I was to be coaching at PHS and to be a member of the Polson community.

In 2008 my friend and Girls Head Coach Bruce Thomas headed off to Alaska. We shared assistant coaches during his days as a head coach and each of us assisted the other in our programs. In order to organize practices a little better the programs were united that year and I was the head of both programs. All that I was doing for the boys I now did for the girl program also. Sunday for me involved even more time on the job essentially doubling my workload. What a pleasure though, working with such a great group of talented girls. Many great memories.

I would encourage coaches trying to build or rebuild a program to go the extra mile if that is really what they intend to do. The hill is sometimes steep but not impossible to climb. Be creative. Never quit searching for ways to get kids involved with you and your program. Always put the kids first. Their success is your success. Reaching the top is one of the most satisfying experiences you will ever experience.


End of Season Soccer honors

Northern A

Boys Soccer

First team

Austin Luper, sr., Polson*

Honorable mention

Kaden Nelson, jr., Polson

*Indicates all-state selection


Second team

Grace Hobbs, sr., Polson; Sophia Moderie, jr., Polson; Tia Mercer, so., Polson.

Honorable mention

Autumn Burland, sr., Polson

Polson’s Thiel, Emerson earn all-state golf honors

Portions of an article BY JOHN HEGLIE Special for the Leader

The Mission Valley reaped a pair of all-staters when senior Ellie Thiel and freshman Hunter Emerson of Polson placed among the top 15 at the two-day Class A state golf tournament Thursday and Friday at the Butte Country Club.

Thiel improved her second day score by seven strokes to move up three spots from tied 14th after first-day action. Emerson and fellow Pirate Torrin Ellis were initially tied at 24th after first-day action with dual 87s. But Emerson shaved 10 strokes off his firstday tally to leapfrog up the leaderboard 11 spots and finish 13th.

Emerson’s 10-stroke improvement tied for thirdbest second-day

recovery with Johnny Nix of Whitefish among the boys field, behind a 17-stroke leap by Kaden Hardin of Miles City and 15-stroke surge by Bryce Hayes of Livingston.

Polson’s Ellis and Carson Hupka and Carly Garrick were models of consistency. Hupka and Ellis turned in duplicate scores over the course of both days, while Garrick was within one stroke of her preceding day tally.

Thiel tied for 10th in 2018 for all-conference kudos at the Western A Divisional her sophomore season, and finished tied for eighth last year for all-state honors. The seasoned senior put together a complementary set to close out her prep postseason finales with her all-state flourish, coupled with her preceding sixth-place finish at divisionals for all-conference acknowledgement.

Pirates rake in Western A accolades

Portions of an article by JOHN HEGLIE Special for the Leader

Almost a dozen Western A football players from Polson and Ronan were acknowledged with postseason honors for their athletic performances on the gridiron this past fall. Polson had seven named to the honors list: two allstaters, four second-team noms and an honorable mention. All-state accolades for the Polson Pirates went to sophomore southpaw signal- caller Jarrett Wilson and junior receiver Colton Graham. The tandem rewrote the school record book for passing and receiving yardage, appended their names among statewide top 10 lists, and were nationally ranked among the upper echelon of teams posting the MaxPreps. 

Wilson broke the school passing record twice in the same season: his season opener debut on the road at Columbia Falls, and a 500-yard performance at home against Butte Central. His over 3,100 passing yards vaulted him into second place among the all-time Class A list for season passing along with appending his name multiple times to the top tier list for single- game yardage, according to Class A statistician Brian A. Reed.

Graham set the school reception record in the season opener against the Wildcats and almost broke the record again at home against Butte Central — if not for adownfield holding infraction that reduced his net gain. Graham’s 1,000 yard-plus season was tops among Class A receivers and was accomplished despite not seeing action in two games.

Second-team junior Xavier Fisher was the second leading receiver for the Pirates. According to Reed, Fisher’s eclipsing of 200 receiving yards against Butte Central in conjunction with comparable yardage by Graham was the first time two receivers had caught passes for over the double- century mark in the same game.

Second-team junior defensive end Braunson Henriksen was a second leading tackler on the team, recovered a fumble while forcing three others, and regularly brought havoc to the backfield.

Second-team sophomore linebacker Trent Wilson was the leading tackler for the Pirates with 79 total tackles. His defensive portfolio this past season included a pick-6, a blocked PAT and a fumble recovery.

Second-team senior jack-of-all-trades Boston Goode did a little bit of everything for the Pirates: backfield rusher, complimentary receiver and punter. In the secondary he recorded four interceptions, at least four pass deflections and was third leading tackler among the team. Goode culminates his prep career with more than 1,200 total yards of offense, factoring in his sophomore season filling in as quarterback. This was the second all-conference acknowledgement for Goode, an honorable mention punter last season.

Senior center Ethan Cunningham was conferred with honorable mention recognition for his crucial role in anchoring the offensive line.

2020 WESTERN A football postseason honors

POLSON – (A-S): Jarrett Wilson QB, Colton Graham WR; (2ND-TM): Xavier Fisher WR, Braunson Henriksen DE, Trent Wilson OLB, Boston Goode S; (HM): Ethan Cunningham C.

Lady Pirates earn All-State volleyball honors

Portions of an article BY JOHN HEGLIE Special for the Leader

Five Polson volleyball players recently were honored with postseason accolades, including first-team all-state designations for Lady Pirates senior Maggie Todd.

Todd surpassed the double- century mark for kills while spearheading the Polson attack. Equally adept as a solid defender, Todd surpassed recorded more than 200 digs while also leading the team with blocks at the net. This was the third straight season that Todd has lodged at least 100 kills and digs, and it’s her second allstate nod.

Polson senior setter Berkley Ellis was named to the all-state second team. She was second on her team in aces and had more than 100 digs on defense. This was the second all-conference nod for Ellis, an honorable mention last season.

Senior outside hitter Kobbey Smith of Polson netted an allstate honorable mention. She was the second leading hitter at the net for kills and led the team in aces. Also garnering all-state honorable mentionhonors were teammates

Hallie Moss, a senior, and senior libero Ara Mercer, who surpassed 700 digs over the course of two seasons.

Western A all-state/all-conference honors 2020 Northwest A

POLSON – (a-s): sr. Maggie Todd; (2nd-tm): sr. Berkley Ellis; (hm): sr. Kobbey Smith; sr. Ara Mercer; sr. Hallie Moss.

Pirate football: A unique season under unusual circumstances

BY JOHN HEGLIE, Special for the Leader

Jarrett Wilson
Quarterback Jarrett Wilson passes to Robert Perez.

Football experienced a unique fall 2020 season that extended far beyond playing under the cloud of a worldwide viral pandemic. Statewide as well as local school records were reset by a quarterback in his inaugural season as well as by those among his receiving corps. In the season opener at Columbia Falls, both southpaw sophomore signal- caller Jarrett Wilson and his lead receiver Colton Graham would reset the single game Polson school record for both passing as well as receiving yardage. Wilson threw for 444 yards, obliterating the previous record of 310 set by Craig Bagnell against Stevensville back in 2007. Graham would catch a dozen passes for 251 yards, surpassing the previous mark of 248 set by Matthew Rensvold in 2016. Bagnell is currently head coach of the University of Mary Marauders. Rensvold is among the receiving corps on the University of Montana Grizzlies roster.

The season opener would be just a portent of things to come. Jarrett Wilson would throw four more games for over 400 yards, including a north of 500 yard performance against Butte Central that reset the school passing record yet again. By the end of the season, Wilson had surpassed three thousand passing yards, ranking him at the pinnacle of statewide passers as well as among the top 15 nationally among schools posting to MaxPreps.

Only Dakota Bridwell of Columbia Falls in 2016 has passed for more yardage in Montana Class A history. Bridwell’s league leading 3,901 passing yardage was accomplished over the course of a dozen games that included three postseason playoffs. Jarrett Wilson accomplished his 3,116 over the course of nine games.

It should be noted that two of those nine entailed atrocious weather conditions. The midseason Libby match featured sheets of pouring rain, while the regular schedule finale against Hamilton was played in a snowstorm with limited visibility. Had more favorable weather conditions been present for those two contests, there is little doubt Wilson would have further enhanced the Polson passing attack with a higher cumulative tally. Add in his 89-327 yards rushing from scrambling or quarterback keepers along with his lone eight yard reception and Wilson has generated 3,450 total yards all by his lonesome.

On the receiving end of the spectrum, junior wideout Colton Graham not only reset the school receiving record in the season opener, but almost did it again in the Butte Central game as well. Graham would have attained the necessary yardage with a string of final frame receptions. But a downfield holding penalty on a 37-yard gainer scrubbed some of his accumulated net yardage that would compromise resetting a new record.

By the culmination of the season, Graham was listed at the pinnacle among statewide receivers, while making the top 40 nationally among schools posting to MaxPreps despite not playing in two games. Had he also played in those contests while maintaining his per game average, Graham would have stratified among the top ten nationally among schools posting to the MaxPreps matrix.

Xavier Fisher was another popular target among Jarrett Wilson’s receiving corps, racking up over 600 reception yards over the course of the season. Fisher’s official circa-200 receiving yards against Butte Central juxtaposed with Graham catches was the first time teammates have ever turned in dual 200 reception yards in the same game at the Class A level.

The emergence of Jarrett Wilson isn’t something that materialize overnight. Behind the scenes can be found a combination of hard work, aptitude as well as pedigree. In addition to substantial dedication to a regimen of preparation during the offseason, Wilson’s aptitude can be traced in part to a penchant to emulate his Pirate pedigree. Jarrett grew up among three other brothers who have played their share of backyard football over the years. Eldest brother Tanner quarterbacked the Pirates from 2014-16 before joining the UM Griz roster for a couple of seasons. Father Scott Wilson, current MHSA staff member and former Polson High principal, is a former quarterback himself (Missoula Big Sky, 1984-86) who coached the Polson Pirates football program for sixteen

seasons (2001-16). Witnessing such accomplishments as they unfolded over the course of the season were a marvel to behold. But far fewer had opportunity to witness such a unique display of Pirate passing proficiency on account of the pandemic climate with its associate precautions. With the core of the Pirate lineup returning intact next season, Pirate fans have something to look forward to with anticipation as to what subsequent seasons may hold.

Brian A Reed, Class A football statistician, has documented multiple factoids about Jarrett Wilson’s inaugural season behind center at quarterback:

  • Only three players at the Class A level have surpassed 3,000 yards since 1990.
  • Ranks second among Class A for single season passing yardage (2016: Bridwell, 3901) · Occupies five places among the top ten list for single games with 400 yards passing.
  • Third-most single game passing yards in Class A history, most in 25 years.
  • Four times placed among statewide top twelve for passing completions (39,*41/37,34,32).
  • Most single game passing completions in 25 years of Class A state history (39/*41).
  • Reset Class A state record for cumulative pass completions (256+).
  • Four times placed among statewide top ten for passing attempts (60,54,53,46).
  • Reset Class A state record for cumulative pass attempts (429+).
  • One of just nine Class A players with 30 touchdown passes in a season.
  • One among five with multiple career six TD games.
  • Twice reset Polson school record for passing yardage.

Class A FB single season passing yardage (Brian A. Reed) Dakota Bridwell, C-Falls (2016: 238-401-3901-10-49td) 12gms Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 256-429-3115-12-32td) 9gms* Carson Rostad, Hamilton (2017: 203-336-3079-7-39td) 12gms Dane Warp, Havre (2012: 181-298-2941-12-21td) 11gms Asterisk (*) denotes minor variation(s) may apply Class A FB single game passing yardage (Brian A. Reed) Chris Klein, BlgsC (1995: 38-66-624-2-7td) vs. Colstrip Chris Klein, BlgsC (1995: 30-55-523-3-6td) vs. Sidney Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 34-46-519-0-6td) vs. ButteC Dakota Bridwell, C-Falls (2016: 37-63-464-2-2td) vs. Polson Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 32-53-444-1-3td) vs. C-Falls Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 39-60-441-2-5td) vs. Frenchtown Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 28-46-439-2-5td) vs. Ronan Dane Warp, Havre (2012: 19-32-438-0-5td) vs. Lewistown Josh Link, Hardin (2006: 18-33-435-1-5td) vs. Belgrade Cade Baker, Frenchtown (2018: 23-41-432-4-6td) vs. Hamilton Jarrett Wilson, Polson (2020: 37-54-413-1-6td)* vs. Bigfork Craig Bagnell, Polson (2007: 17-31-310-2 -3td) vs. Stevi

High school football notebook: Polson finds passing prowess with sophomore QB, the nation’s No. 9 passer

MISSOULA — The secret that Polson football coach Kaden Glinsmann tried to hide all summer is well out there now: The Pirates have their quarterback of the future.


Sophomore Jarrett Wilson has used his cannon of a left arm to rank ninth in the country in passing yards per game while guiding Polson to a 3-1 record and three consecutive wins with an offense that returned just two starters from last year’s 4-5 team.

Wilson’s strong start goes back to his freshman year, when he experienced the varsity level while thrust into starting at cornerback because of an injury to Trevor Schultz. That’s helped him adapt to the speed of the game and come up clutch on two final drives with a strip fumble and recovery against Whitefish and an interception Browning to seal a set of wins.

When the coronavirus led to the cancellation of track, Wilson turned his attention to getting in early prep to play quarterback. He brought teammates out for throwing sessions, showing the maturity and leadership of a coach’s son; his father, Scott Wilson, formerly coached the Pirates.

In the summer, Wilson showed his abilities to deliver the ball to players when Polson made trips to Glacier for skeleton passing work. He started to bring back visions of a winning team and an offense led by his brother Tanner Wilson, who was a backup quarterback at Montana in the Big Sky Conference, where Glinsmann thinks Wilson may get a look at quarterback or safety.

“We had a pretty good suspicion with our summer program that he’d be really good for us,” Glinsmann said of his 5-foot-10, 175-pound signal caller ahead of the Pirates’ matchup at 3-1 Libby at 7 p.m. Friday. “We just didn’t how special he’d be. He has a long way to go, but we’re excited about where he’s at and what he can be.”

Wilson is averaging 393 yards of offense per game, including 352.3 through the air, an impressive amount even though some states aren’t playing football and could’ve had players push him down the leaderboard. He’s completed 62.6% of his passes (112/179) for 1,409 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. They’ve passed the ball 73.1% of the time, but when they’ve run, Wilson has 37 of those 66 carries and has rushed for a team-best 155 yards and two touchdowns.

He’s coming off a game in which he had 559 yards of offense, the second most in Class A history, throwing for 439 and running for 120 to become the fifth Class A player to go over 300 passing and 100 rushing in the same game, according to Class A statistician Brian A. Reed.

That came after Wilson threw for a school-record 444 yards in the opener, making him the fourth Class A player with multiple 400-yard passing games in an entire career, and he’s played just four games.

“We try to do a very good job of protecting where he’s looking with his eyes and misdirection to where you can’t just key on where he’s looking with his eyes,” said Glinsmann, a former Carroll College defensive backs coach now in his second season at Polson. “There’s time where it looks like he’s looking one and goes another way. That’s by design. We’re looking to keep him in the pocket and give him quick throws but other times we want him to get out of the pocket.”

Wilson has done that while operating behind a makeshift offensive line that has two returning starters in addition to a freshman at tackle, a junior at guard and a wide receiver-turned-guard.

Polson’s approach to its uptempo offense has been throwing to space with the belief defenses don’t have enough players to completely blanket the field and some spot should be open. Right now, they’re telling Wilson about what to do, but Glinsmann believes it won’t be long before he brings his own ideas to the coaches.

Wilson’s top target has been junior wide receiver Colton Graham, a basketball player who didn’t come out for football until one game into last season and is more than halfway to 1,000 yards this season in just three games. He has 27 receptions for 511 yards and four scores, going for 246 yards against Ronan and 251 against Columbia Falls.

Graham sat out against Browning because of injury and was bracketed by two defenders against Whitefish, limiting him to three catches for 14 yards. So Wilson shifted away from his go-to guy against Whitefish, throwing for 163 yards and two scores to Jony Perez, one of five receivers with 148 or more receiving yards this year.

“We have young guys on the offensive line, and the one thing I knew I could teach them right away is pass protection and allowing Jarrett to be successful around it,” Glinsmann said. “We don’t have dudes who live in the weight room, but what we do have is great basketball players, baseball players and athletes who want the ball in space and don’t shrink in the moment. That’s been a product of Jarrett’s statistics is he knows those kids and believes in those kids.”

Polson hasn’t lost since blowing a 14-point lead in the season opener at Columbia Falls, one of five conferences teams at 3-1, along with Polson, Libby, Dillon and Frenchtown. Whitefish is 2-2, while Hamilton is 4-0 to lead the league, which will send four teams to the playoffs instead of six because of a reduced bracket due to the pandemic.

The Pirates’ road test at Libby could go a long way in determining whether they make the playoffs. It’ll be two different styles of football as Polson will look to pass and score quickly while Libby will try to shorten the game and run the clock with their ground game.

“We view this as a playoff game,” Glinsmann said. “This is a huge one for us. It’s a big test. I think more than anything, this upcoming game is why we all love football so much. There’s different ways to play football, and you’re going to see a clash of styles.”

Lady Pirates’ future bright after second-place finish

Lake County Leader

Lady Pirates 2nd Place

Headed into the tournament, former Polson High School softball coach Larry Smith admitted hosting a Montana High School Association Class A state tournament can work two ways: for you, or against you.

In the case of the Lady Pirates, who were the host team this year, they didn’t falter to being in front of their hometown.

They thrived, and the result was a second-place finish after falling to the Belgrade 11-1 in the MHSA Class A championship game Saturday afternoon at Polson High School’s softball complex.

The Polson softball team has become known for their hitting prowess throughout the regular season, and they continued that trend into the Montana High School Association Class A postseason.

Belgrade, who will be joining the MHSA Class AA ranks next season, was able to utilize their playoff experience the Panthers have accumulated over the last two seasons to capture their second consecutive MHSA Class A state softball title.

Next year, the Pirates and the rest of the Class A competition, won’t have to worry about Belgrade, a school that grew exponentially because of the housing boom in the greater Bozeman area.

The Lady Pirates, who were the host team, started the second round of the softball playoffs, after earning a bye by romping Fergus.

Polson was catapulted by Lexi Orien’s grand slam homerun at the bottom of the third that began their all-out assault on Fergus.

Josie Caye proved hitting was contagious, as she smashed a sole homerun in the fourth inning, which was Caye’s seventh homerun on the season. The Lady Pirates’ six runs in the third and three at the bottom of the sixth were enough to capture an 11-1 victory in the second round of the MHSA Class A state playoffs.

In their victory over Fergus, the Lady Pirates had multiple top hitters. Josie Caye and Kaylanna DesJarlais were 3-for-4. Paige Noyes went 2-for-4, Kallie Finbeiner was 2-for-4, and Lexi Orien was 2-for-4 in the effort.  Lisa Castillo also had a double in the victory.

After Polson fell to Hamilton 2-1, they climbed through the loser’s bracket.

Polson rolled Columbia Falls 11-1, they beat their long-standing rival Frenchtown 7-6,  and avenged their loss to Hamilton to climb themselves back into the championship game against Belgrade.

Polson, who had played Belgrade tight in previous games this season, was overpowered by the Belgrade team 11-1 in the MHSA Class A championship game.

The Panthers, who will transfer to MHSA Class AA classification next season, limited the lethal Lady Pirates’ bats.

Lexi Orien and Kallie Finkbeiner would be the only Lady Pirates base runners to reach scoring position in the loss.

Seniors holding state trophy

The Lady Pirates, who finished second in the MHSA Class A classification, were an extension of the Polson softball system that has 8U to 16, to 18U this year. The softball system, which provides aspiring Lady Pirates with essentially a farm system to cultivate up-and-coming talent, proved to be valuable this year. Head coach Jamie Hansen, in his first year of replacing Larry Smith, proved to be more than an adequate replacement as the Lady Pirates continue to forge ahead in their quest for an MHSA Class A state title. A quest that should be made easier with Belgrade transitioning to MHSA Class AA.

At Polson in the State A title tilt, the Lady Pirates would need a Herculian effort to harvest gold, one that would require the equivalent of prying the coveted trophy from between the claws of the paws of the twotime defending champion Lady Panthers. Much like an apex predator at the top of the food chain guarding its prey, AA-bound Belgrade would be reluctant to part with their cherished prize.

Tournament MVP pitcher Erin Elgas would supply the arm, backed up by the solid gloves of defensive fielders behind her and some blistering bats at the plate, to minimize whatever chances might be lurking among the shadows for the top prize to gravitate into the mitts of somebody else.

State A championship

Belgrade 11, Polson 1

In the fifth, 6-2 Panther outfielder Madi Kreiger would stretch her glove over the left field fence for an ESPN highlight reel type catch to commit highway robbery of what would have been a Kallie Finkbeiner home run. Lexi Orien and Finkbeiner would be the only base runners to reach scoring position. Polson’s best team finish since 2013.

(1NW) Polson (21-6), (1C) Belgrade (23-0, 29-1) Polson 000 10 – 1 3 2* Belgrade 070 04 – 11 13 2* Lauren Vergeront (2IP: 4H,0K,2W,2HB), (3) Katelyne Druyvestein (0K,9H,3A) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. Erin Elgas (6K) and Haylee Curry. W – Elgas (17-0). L – Vergeront (19-6).

POLSON – Josie Caye 0-2, DesJarlais 0-3, Paige Noyes 0-2, Lexi Orien 1-2, SaVanna Carpentier 0-2, Vergeront 0-1, Druyvestein 1-1, Kobbey Smith 0-2, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Kallie Finkbeiner 1-2, (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

BELGRADE – Kenna Thomas *2-2, Kaleigh Bauerle 1-1, Maddisen Tomasetti 1-1, Sheridan Smith 0-1, Madi Kreiger 2-3, Olivia Cook 2-4, Lanie Morgan 2-3, Hazel Eaton 2-3, Ellie Milesnick 0-2, Curry 1-3, Kamie Gorrell 1-3, (flex) Elgas.

*HR – Cook; [Finkbeiner robbed!]. 2B – Bauerle, Morgan; *Orien. RBIs – Thomas, Tomasetti 2, Kreiger 2, Cook 3, Gorrell, Morgan; Druyvestein. SH – Thomas, Tomasetti, Milesnick. BB – Caye; Tomasetti, Kreiger. HB – Thomas, Morgan. ROE – Vergeront; Kreiger, Curry. FC – Gorrell. SB – Morgan. DP – b4: Carpentier, Noyes. (Sa25May19gm22st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: BelGC (P:3E/) – Orien (LPiScore: 1B+E8, iJHt: 2B); Thomas 1-1 (LPiScore: HB,SH,1B; BelgGC/ iJHt:ab2=H).

loser takes third Polson 6, Hamilton 2

Kaylanna DesJarlais and Josie Caye both mashed taters, DesJarlais in the third for her fifth of the season and Caye in the fifth for her eighth of the season.

(1NW) Polson (21-5), (2SW) Hamilton (195-2) Hamilton 100 010 – 2 5 1* Polson 201012 – 6 8 3* Jorden Taggart and Katelyne Druyvestein (4.33IP: 1K,3W), Lauren Vergeront (2K,0H,1W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais, (4) Kallie Finkbeiner, (6) DesJarlais. W – Druyvestein (1-0). L – Taggert. Sv – Vergeront.

HAMILTON – Sophia Doyle 2-4, Abby Johnson 0-2, Mikayln Brickley 0-3, Taggart 0-3, Maggie Ringer 0-2, Chantele Sisson 0-3, Haley Frey 0-2, Olivia Zepeda 2-3, Phoebe Howard 0-1, Maria Gutierrez *0-1, (flex) Kyla Shepherd, (cr) Madison Johnson.

POLSON – Josie Caye 1-3, DesJarlais 2-3, Paige Noyes *2-3, Lexi Orien 0-3, SaVanna Carpentier 0-3, Vergeront 1-3, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Grace Quinones 0-1, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-2, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

HR – DesJarlais, Caye. RBIs – Ringer; *Orien, DesJarlais, Caye, Vergeront, Ko.Smith. BB – Johnson 2, Howard, Ringer. FC – *Doyle, Taggart. SB – S.Brown. CS – Doyle. 2DP – t2: Costilla, Noyes; t7: Caye, Noyes. Runs – Doyle, Zepeda; Caye, Des-Jarlais, Vert, Noyes 2, Brown. (Sa25May-19gm21st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: HamGC( H:5H,2E/P:7H,1E) – Ringer (H:1sb; P:0sb), Gutierrez 1-3 (t7- H:1B, P:ROE); Noyes (b1H:ROE; P:1B), Orien 1rbi (H:1rbi, P:2rbi) 

loser takes fourth

Kobbey Smith hits home run
Polson 7, Frenchtown 6 (8 inn.) Kaylanna DesJarlais, Lisa Costilla and Kobbey Smith all mashed taters of a solo variety with Smith supplying the walkoff for the win. Classic Frenchtown vs Polson rivalry, a contest that seesaws back and forth, hangs in the balance and the outcome is uncertain until the final out is secured.

(1NW) Polson (20-5), (1SW) Frenchtown (17-8) Frenchtown 002 000 40 – 6 11 2* Polson 120 020 11 – 7 10 1* Claire Bagnell (1K) and Kendra Williams. Lauren Vergeront (5.33IP: 5K,1W), (6) Katelyne Druyvestein (1.33IP: 1K,2H,2W), (7) Vergeront (1.33IP: 2K,1H,2W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W – Vergeront (19-5). L – Cl.Bagnell.

FRENCHTOWN – Cassidy Bagnell *2-4, Mikaela Field 1-5, Layne Bauer 1-5, Taylor Garren 2-4, Cassidy Moen 2-3, Cl. Bagnell 1-2, Hailey Arthur 2-4, Hallie Habeck 0-4, Williams 0-3, (flex) Shelby Miotke.

POLSON – Josie Caye 2-3, DesJarlais 2-4, Paige Noyes 1-4, Lexi Orien 2-3, SaVanna Carpentier 0-4, Vergeront 1-3, Druyvestein 0-1, Kobbey Smith 1-4, Lisa Costilla 1-3, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-3, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

HR – DesJarlais, Costilla, Ko.Smith. 2B – Ca.Bagnell, Bauer; Orien, Caye. RBIs – Bauer, Garren 2, Cl.Bagnell, Arthur 2; Caye, DesJarlais, Orien 2, Ko.Smith, Costilla 2. BB – Ca.Bagnell, Moen, Cl.Bagnell 2, Williams; Caye, Orien. ROE – Ca.Bagnell; Finkbeiner. FC – Vergeront, Ko.Smith. SB – Ca.Bagnell 2. CS – Caye. Runs – Ca.Bagnell, Field, Bauer, Garren, Moen, Williams; Caye, Des-Jarlais, (cr) Vert, Ko.Smith 2, Costilla, Finkbeiner. (Sa25May19gm21st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: FrGC( F:12H,2E/P:13H,0E) – Vergeront (F:H, P:FC), Ko.Smith (F:H, P:FC), Finkbeiner (F:H,P:ROE).

Polson 11, Columbia Falls 1

Lexy Orien mashed her sixth tater of the season, while Josie Caye, Paige Noyes and Lauren Vergeront inflicted doubles troubles upon the conference rival WildKats.

(1NW) Polson (19-5), (2NW) C-Falls (14-121) C-Falls 000 001 – 1 3 4 Polson 113 222 – 11 12 0 Savvy Ellis and GraceAnne Sevesind. Lauren Vergeront (5.33IP:4K,1HB), (6) Ellie Thiel and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W – Vergeront (185). L – Ellis. Sv – Thiel.

COLUMBIA FALLS – Kaylee Ashe 1-3, Alyssa Blankenship 0-3, Trista Cowan 0-3, Sevesind 1-2, Ryley Kehr 0-2, Isabel Johnson 0-2, Chloe Kienas 0-2, Ellis 0-1, McKenna Rensel 1-2.

POLSON – Josie Caye *2-2, DesJarlais *13, Grace Quinones 0-1, Paige Noyes 2-4, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *2-4, Vergeront 1-2, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-3, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-2, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

HR – Orien. 2B – Caye, Noyes, Vergeront, Carpentier. RBIs – Noyes, Orien 2, Vergeront, Carpentier 2. SF – Vergeront. SH – Frey. BB – Caye 2, Finkbeiner. HB – Ellis. SB – Caye 2, (cr) Vert. DP – b3:Caye, Noyes. (Fr24May19gm18st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: LPiScore (P:9H,0E) – Caye 1-2 (ROE vs 1B:iJHt), Des-Jarlais 0-2 (SH vs BT:iJHt), Carpentier 1-4 (ROE vs 1B+E:iJHt).

Hamilton 2, Polson 1

Knotted at one apiece, the Broncs bombers from Hamilton would plate a late inning run to buck the Bucs from the saddle of their own tournament.

(1NW) Polson (18-5), (2SW) Hamilton (193-2) Polson 100 000 0 – 1 9 2* Hamilton 010 001 x – 2 4 1* Lauren Vergeront (4IP:3K,1W,1HB,1PO,1A), (5) Katelyn Druyvestein (2K,1A) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. Jorden Taggart and Haley Frey. W – Taggart. L – Vergeront (17-5) 

POLSON – Josie Caye 0-2, DesJarlais 1-3, Paige Noyes 2-3, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *1-3, Vergeront 1-2, Druyvestein 0-1, Kobbey Smith 2-3, Lisa Costilla 0-2, Kallie Finkbeiner 0-3, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

HAMILTON – Sophia Doyle 1-3, Abby Johnson 2-3, Mikayln Brickley 0-2, Taggart 0-2, Maggie Ringer 1-3, Chantele Sisson 0-3, Haley Frey 0-2, Olivia Zepeda 1-2, Phoebe Howard 0-2, (flex) Kyla Shepherd, (cr) Madison Johnson.

2B – DesJarlais, Ko.Smith; Abby Johnson. RBIs – Zepeda. SH – Costilla; Brickley. BB – Caye 2; DesJarlais,Taggart. HB – Frey. *ROE – Frey. FC – Orien, Ko.Smith. DP: b2: Brickley, Johnson, Sisson. (Th23May19gm13st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: LPiScore (P:7H/H:4H), HamGC (P:4H,1E/H:5H,3E) Noyes 1-3 (H:ROE, P:H+E), Carpentier 0-3 (H:ROE, P:1B+E), Vergeront 0-2 (H:ROE only, P:H+E) 

Polson 11, Fergus 1

Lexy Orien mashed a tater in the bottom of the third for her fifth home run of the season, a grand slameroni, while Josie Caye mashed a solo tater in the fourth, her seventh of the season as the Lady Pirates tethered the talons of the Lady Golden Eagles.

(1NW) Polson (18-4), (2C) Fergus (14-10)Fergus 100 000 – 1 2 3* Polson 006 113 – 11 18 2* Jessica Morgan, (6) Macy Mangold and Jacy Ayers. Lauren Vergeront (7K,2W,1HB), (6) Katelyne Druyvestein (1W) and Kaylanna DesJarlais. W – Vergeront (17-4). L – J.Morgan.

FERGUS (LEWISTOWN) – Kaycee Gordon 0-3, Morgan 0-3, Mangold 0-1, Bailey Castillo 2-3 Hailey Welsch 0-3, Libby Jenness 0-2, Madison Affolder 0-3, Chelsea Jensen 0-1, Jacy Ayers 0-2.

POLSON – Josie Caye 3-4, DesJarlais 3-4, Paige Noyes 2-4, Lexi Orien 2-4, SaVanna Carpentier *1-3, Vergeront *1-3, Druyvestein 1-1, Kobbey Smith 3-4, Lisa Costilla 0-4, Kallie Finkbeiner 2-4, (cr) Anna Vert (c), (cr) Shaeley Brown (p).

HR – Orien, Caye. 2B – Castillo; Carpentier. RBIs – Caye 2, Orien 4, Ko.Smith 2, Finkbeiner 2. SH – Carpentier. BB – Mangold 2, Jenness. HB – Jensen. ROE – Gordon; Ko.Smith. FC – Caye, DesJarlais, Runs – Mangold; Caye 2, (cr) Vert, Orien 2, Carpentier, (cr) Brown 2, Ko.Smith 2, Finkbeiner. (Th23May19gm5st) Asterisk (*) denotes stat variant(s) where alternative assessments exist: Pvenue – Carpentier 1-4(fo,H,k,SH) Pvenue (F:2H,2E/P:17H,1E), FergGC (F:2H,3E/P:16H,1E) – Ko.Smith 4H,3rbi


Saturday, October 27, 2018


By JOHN HEGLIE Special for the Leader

At Smith Fields in Whitefish for the 2018 State A boys soccer championship, the Polson Pirates and the Northern A conference champion Bulldogs would put on quite a show in an energetic quest to claim the coveted state A crown last Saturday. This would be just the third foray to the championship match in the history of the Pirate boys’ soccer program, who hoped that the idiomatic expression “third time’s a charm” would play out in Polson’s favor.

With two of the top three scorers among Class A in Pirates Mack Moderie and Robin Erickson having collaborated on over 50 goals, inclusive of kicks from the penalty mark, as well as having contributed over two dozen assists, Polson certainly had the horsepower at their disposal to shape the outcome of this contest in their favor. Polson was also the only team to inflict the lone blemish upon the otherwise pristine Whitefish record, having forged a 3-3 tie with the Bulldogs in their last encounter three weeks prior.

Laden with eight seasoned seniors who had honed their craft over the course of multiple seasons in addition to a supporting cast of up-and-comers fleshing out the Pirate roster, history was beckoning for this season to culminate in the prize of a program first. Yet, despite the best planning and preparation that could be mustered, a Bulldog Burger-lar would get loose by the name of Xander Burger — whose caliber of play would prove instrumental in purloining the prize sought by Pirate players when he turned in a five-goal performance.

Unlike some postseason contests in which both teams start out cautiously as they gauge each other for strengths and weaknesses, this championship started out high octane with both being aggressive on the attack.

At the 10-minute mark, Pirate keeper Kaden Nelson made an aggressive charge to intercept encroachment of the ball near the corner of the box. The Bulldogs’ ball handler was just able to tap it by outstretched glove reach. With the keeper momentarily beyond optimal intervention range, Ian Lacey unloaded a shot on the frame of the goal. Fortunately for the Pirates, defender Austin Luper vectored to intercept and cleared the ball so as to deny what would likely have been the first goal of the contest.

At the 23rd-minute mark, Pirate Robin Erickson uncorked a shot from the left side of the box, which was initially deflected by Whitefish keeper Colter Upton. Unable to quite secure the ball, a handful of Bulldog defenders simultaneously converged upon the area to clog access lanes as Erickson sought unsuccessfully to maneuver past the congestion of the traffic jam.

Back-to-back goals by Bulldog Burger within a three-minute span would stake Whitefish with a 2-0 advantage. Polson would counter when Nico River cut that lead in half after a Bridger Wenzel feed, 2-1.

Whitefish would reacquire the margin with a second-half opening-minute goal by Burger, giving him a three-goal hat trick at that juncture, 3-1. Polson would counter within minutes after a Mack Moderie attack that was initially deflected by Bulldog keeper Upton. As the keeper sought to secure the ball with outstretched fingers, Erickson beat him to the spot and flicked the ball into the back corner of the net to draw his team within a goal once again, 3-2.

Thereafter, Polson had four different shot opportunities of varying degrees of threat level: wide left, over the crossbar, an on-frame Luper zinger from the wing that forced a keeper intercept and a Moderie carry to within launch range that was diffused by Bulldog defenders.

A strategic turning point in the match would take place just before the three-quarter juncture. Bulldog Joshua Gunderson and a Pirate defender were battling for control of the ball within the 18-yard-box of the Polson goal. A penalty kick would be awarded, which Bulldog Ian Lacey would bury into the back of the net to re-extend the lead back to a two goal advantage, 4-2.

At that juncture, Polson was forced into a delicate risk versus reward strategy in an effort to close the gap with time dwindling. Pirate coach Adam Fansher observed, “I felt the turning point in the match was the penalty… and (we) had to push some extra players forward to catch up, leaving our defenders exposed at that back.”

Over the course of the remainder of the match, the Pirates would have twice as many shot opportunities as their opponent, 11 to five — a half dozen of them taken on the frame of the goal that required defensive intervention. River launched one from 20 yards out, forcing the keeper to deflect it over the crossbar at the 58th minute. Another was double-pronged when Moderie sought to penetrate the defensive array in front of the goal at about the 65 minute mark. When his effort was repelled by defenders, Moderie regained possession and deftly passed the ball over to an open Connor Lanier on the other side. Lanier, who kicked field goals for the Pirate football squad last season, unleashed his best effort, but the ball couldn’t quite gain enough lift nor zing to evade the grasp of the keeper.

By contrast, Whitefish would add a pair of insurance goals when Burger drilled both of his chances through the spread between Polson defenders.

Though the outcome was disappointing, Fansher was nevertheless impressed by the team effort.

“We knew going into it that we would have to be almost perfect as a team … but unfortunately we made too many mistakes … That space we allowed them … combined with an outstanding performance from Xander Burger was too much … to contain,” the Pirates coach said.

In retrospect, one wonders whether the outcome could have been shaped differently had health issues not impacted the team in the form of limiting the availability of a pair of seasoned veterans. A Pirate squad at full strength and playing at an optimal level are a couple of variables that might have been able to tilt the balance toward the Pirates. Nevertheless, the team finishes with one of the best, if not the best, overall record in program history as well as fourth-best conference record over the course of the past decade.

Whitefish 6, Polson 2

Polson (13-2-1), Whitefish (14-0-1)

Polson 1 1 – 2

Wfish- 2 4 – 6

W – g Xander Burger (a Ian Lacey) 26’

W – g Burger (a Casey Schneider) 29’

P – g Nico River (a Bridger Wenzel) 32’

W – g Burger (a Schneider) 41’

P – g Robin Erickson rebound (a Mack Moderie) 43’

W – g Lacey (pk) 57’

W – g Burger 70’

W – g Burger (a Lacey) 75’


Friday, May 24, 2019

Whitefish girls nab Class A tennis honors

Lady Pirates finish 2nd

Whitefish girls tennis dominated on the final day of the Class A State Tournament at Flathead Valley Community College on Friday.

The Bulldogs placed first as a team with 33 points, Gracie Smyley claimed the girls singles title and Aubrey Hanks and Olivia Potthoff brought home the doubles championship.

Both matches ended within seconds of each other, with cheers erupting from all sides. Players embraced outside the courts.

“It was kind of like the Fourth of July,” Whitefish girls coach Patrick Dryden said. “Everything exploded at once. The kids have really worked hard this year. We’re pleased to bring another state championship home for Whitefish High School.”

Smyley beat Livingston’s Bobbi Lima in the title match 7-5, 6-3. Lima knocked off defending champion Shea McGuinness of Polson in semifinals earlier in the day.

“It was a very evenly fought match,” Dryden said. “Bobbi gave Gracie all she could handle. Gracie was down 5-4 in that first set and we were trying to figure out how we could win some points off (Lima) because she just wasn’t giving us anything.”

Hanks/Potthoff won in three set against Polson’s Berkley Ellis/Qia Harlan, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“It was tough,” Dryden said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Polson. It’s a really good rivalry and to have it come down to the state doubles championship to determine the state trophy, that was pretty neat.”

Whitefish’s Brendan Buls lost to defending champion Brad Rakich in boys singles, 6-3, 7-6 (8).

Hannah Schweikert of Columbia Falls beat McGuinness in the consolation round to place third. Columbia Falls’ John Gilk and Camryn Lingle lost in the boys doubles fifth place match,

Whitefish’s boys doubles team Mark Anderson/Colter Upton lost in the fifth place game.

“There’s some quality tennis here and it’s gonna get better in the next couple of years,” Dryden said.

Class A State Tennis at FVCC

Team Scores


Whitefish 33, Polson n/a, Hardin 19

Individual Results

Girls Singles


Gracie Smyley (Whitefish) def. Tricia Joyce (Havre) 6-0, 6-2; Bobbi Lima (Livingston) def. Shea McGuinness (Polson) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

Loser Out

Hannah Schweikert (Columbia Falls) def. Eliana Foss (Hamilton) 7-6 (7), 6-0; Emma Putnam (Billings Central) def. Madeline DeLeo 6-0, 6-2; Schweikert (W) def. Tricia Joyce (Butte Central) 6-1, 6-1; McGuinness (P) def. Putnam 6-3, 6-3.

Fifth Place

Joyce (Butte Central) def. Putnam 6-2, 6-0.

Third Place

Schweikert (W) def. McGuinness 6-0, 6-2.


Smyley (W) def. Lima 7-5, 6-3.



Aubrey Hanks/Olivia Potthoff (Whitefish) def. Ara Mercer/Megan Rost (Polson) 6-4, 6-4; Berkley Ellis/Qia Harlan (Polson) def. Kodie Vondra/Sylvie Schoenen (Livingston) 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Loser Out

Cailei Cummins/Deidra Don’t Mix (Hardin) def. Macie Flamm/Rilee Green (Hardin) 6-4, 6-1; Katie Murdock/Makiko Reisig (Hardin) def. Megan Kirkland/Christina Weidkamp (Corvallis) 6-0, 6-3; Murdock/Reisig (Hardin) def. Vondra/Syvie Schoenen 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Fifth Place

Vondra/Schoenen (Livingston) def. Mercer/Rost 6-1, 6-2.

Third Place

Murdock/Reisig (Hardin) def. Cummins/Don’t Mix 6-0, 6-1.


Hanks/Potthoff (W) def. Ellis/Harlan 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.


MHSA Class A track


Polson distance-runner Bea Frissell caps high school career with state titles and state records

By JASON BLASCO, Lake County Leader

Polson High School distance and cross country runner Bea Frissell has always searched for the internal motivation that has allowed her to become a premier runner in the state of Montana, and a top-tier student.

Frissell finished one of the most decorated running careers in Polson High School history and capped her career in her final run ending in a spot she has become familiar with: first place. Setting personal records in both the 1,600meter and 3,200-meter distance events, Frissell capped her Lady Pirate career eclipsing her previous times in both.

Frissell recorded a time of 5:00.10 in the 1,600, and 10:47.33 in the 3,200, both personal records, and both enough to capture first place in the Montana High School Association Class A state meet at Laurel Sports Complex at Laurel High School.

Maintaining motivation

Staying motivated wasn’t always easy.

Last year during her junior year, Frissell admitted to struggling to stay motivated.“Everyone has their moments, and I didn’t have quite as much motivation last year,” Frissellsaid. “I was under so much stress with school, and I wasn’t having as much fun on the track team in general. Matt Seeley helped me stay motivated and much more this year, and the people I enjoy being around (on my team) made running a lot easier.”

Mulling over options

With several collegiate options, Frissell knew there was one she was dead set on: the University of Montana.

“I was looking at Portland State pretty seriouslyas well as Montana State, and I looked at Wyoming for a little bit, but it came down to what I could afford financially,” Frissell said. “I wasn’t able to go outside the state, and that kept me from looking at other places because I couldn’t afford many options.”

There may have been another reason Frissell chose to stay close to home.

“I’ve always really loved the culture at the University of Montana there,” Frissell said. “I love Montana, and you get to walk outside your door and hike. It’s just a beautiful place.”

Being able to balance athletics and school hasn’t always come naturally, Frissell said.

“I would get better at balancing (the two) as I got older,” Frissell said. “I think back during my freshman year, and I struggled to prepare for a test and a track meet. Then, I might have a soccer game the same day. I missed a ton of school, and I had to learn how to stay caught up and communicate with my teachers. It is because of their cooperation that I haven’t had to sacrifice as much as I would have otherwise.”

Frissell credits the support of the Polson running community, her coaching staff, parents and the Polson faculty towards keeping her motivated with achieving her goals.

A change of heart

In middle school, Frissell’s focus wasn’t running because it was soccer, another sport Frissell excelled in.

Many Polson fans have speculated that if Frissell were present on the 2016 soccer team that might have been enough to overhaul Billings Central, a team Polson lost to in a shootout in the semifinals of the 2016 MHSA Class A semifinals. The Lady Pirates’ running team, and the chasing of records after practically owning the Polson girls record book provided too much motivation for Frissell, and her passion for soccer translated into distance running during her freshman year.

“Oh gosh, my favorite sport wasn’t running long distance in middle school,” Frissell admitted. “I was so focused on soccer that I never really thought about running long distance and that it would become my thing. I had no idea I would get those records in high school.”

Frissell, who admitted she enjoyed soccer more than running, didn’t think that trend would change. “Soccer I would say had my heart,” Frissell said.

During Frissell’s freshman year as a Lady Pirates, her passion for soccer began to shift more towards cross country and distance running.

“I remember looking up at times on the wall (as a freshman in high school) and breaking those records was not part of the plan,” Frissell said. “I think I went out my freshman year of track, and I started to get faster, and started improving.”

During the top-10 race during Frissell’s freshman year, she realized her goals of becoming part of the Polson record book could come to fruition.

“I think during my freshman year of track, I started to get faster and started improving,” Frissell said. “The onemile time was the first one through my freshman year in track in the top 10 and I was super, super close. I was within a second. I looked at one of my coaches (distance track Rob Alfiero) and said, ‘why did you not tell me I was that close to a school record,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘you’ll get it next time.’” 

Early in her high school career, Frissell wavered with the two passions of soccer and running, but her coach Matt Seeley and his daughter Malia Seeley would eventually encourage Frissell to harness her natural talent for running.

“Seeley is just such an amazing coach, and knew he could get me those times I wanted to achieve,” Frissell said. “I’ve been running for eight years now, and I think he’s helped a lot in my development as a runner to become a better runner because I wouldn’t say I am a natural runner for sure. He is a huge reason I’ve achieved so much. He’s very passionate about running and knows how to make running fun. He will joke around with the group, and that is one of the biggest reasons for my success as a runner. He made running fun.”

Back to the future

Frissell carried a 4.0 GPA and will head to the University of Montana, where she will take on her career as a distance runner. Frissell said she plans on majoring in ecological restoration and possibly choosing to study environmental law as a niche in law school in the future.

“You just have to stay focused in terms of being able to spend every free minute on homework, and also prioritizing my schedule with a daily planner,” Frissell said. “I’ve been doing this forfour years now, and that helped me keep track of things and helped me stay focused on school work to maintain my 4.0 GPA.

It has helped quite a bit because there were some hard times, but I think it’s possible for everyone.”