Football picks up big win in Polson, Soccer teams head to playoffs

by JEREMY WEBER
For the Eagle | October 14, 2020 2:25 AM

The Vikings got five rushing touchdowns from Cormac Benn and another two from Levi Taylor Friday as they defeated the Class A Pirates in Polson, 54-40.

In a battle of opposite styles, the Vikings finished the contest with 664 yard of total offense, all on the ground, while 438 of Polson’s 509 yards came through the air.

“People get really caught up in the idea of balance, but sometimes you just have what you have and you need to make the most of it. We are young at several positions, so we are going to build our game around what we can do well, and right now that is running the ball,” head coach Jim Benn said about the win. “We have an exceptional offensive line and kids that can run behind it.”

Cormac Benn finished the game with 381 yards to go along with his five touchdowns while Taylor added another 271. Patrick Wallen led the Viking defense with seven tackles and Wyatt Herd had six and a half while Joseph Farrier recorded the only interception of the evening for the Vikings.

The Vikings fell behind 8-0 early in the first quarter when Polson quarterback Jarrett Wilson hooked up with Xavier Fisher for what would be the first of Wilson’s six passing touchdowns in the contest. The Vikings had an answer, though, driving 60 yards in 12 plays to tie the game on a 1-yard run by Cormac Benn.

Bigfork never trailed again as the Vikings went up by as many as 28 on their way to the win.

Coach Benn was not only happy to pick up the win, he was also glad the game gave his defense the chance to work on their pass coverage against one of the best passing quarterbacks in the country, as Wilson is currently seventh in the nation in passing yards.

“Jerrett has just been lighting it up at the Class A level. He’s one of the top passers in the nation and one of the best I have seen, so to get our pass defense experience against a passer like that will only help us down the road,” he said. “Even though we gave up a lot of passing yards, I felt like our defense got better as the game went on. By the end, we were in the right spots and understood what we were trying to do.”

Both schools were happy to even get to play Friday, as both Bigfork and Polson had their original games for the evening cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Bigfork was scheduled to take on Anaconda while Polson was set to celebrate its Homecoming against Frenchtown. According to coach Benn, when he saw that Polson’s game had been cancelled, he started texting other coaches to put the wheels in motion for the Bigfork/Polson matchup.

“To the credit of both school’s administrations, they acted fast and made the game happen,” he said. “They were going to lose their Homecoming game and we didn’t want to have to sit home again without a game, so it worked out great for both schools.”

Bigfork and Anaconda will make up their game this Friday, with the Vikings needing a win to keep their hopes of hosting a first round playoff game alive. Bigfork currently trails Eureka by half a game for the second spot in the conference. A win over Anaconda Friday would set up a game against the Lions in the last game of the regular season where the winner would earn the right to host a first round playoff game.

Soccer

Despite losses to Columbia Falls at home Saturday, both the Valkyries and Vikings soccer teams will be making their first playoff appearances in several years as the boys make their first trip to the postseason since 2014 while the girls haven’t made the playoffs since 2010.

The Vikings picked up a 4-3 win in Polson Oct. 6 as Ben Pilskalns scored twice while Landon Byerman and Dax Stone each added goals. Pilskalns and Byerman also had assists in the contest.

The Vikings came up short against Columbia Falls at home Saturday, falling to the Wildcats 4-1. Pilskalns scored the lone goal for the Vikings.

Bigfork finishes the regular season in third place in the conference with a conference record of three wins and four losses and a 3-6 record overall. The Vikings will be on the road to take on Billings Central in the first round of the playoffs Friday at noon.

The Valkyries had only one game last week after Polson was forced to cancel their matchup after a member of the Lady Pirates squad tested positive for COVID-19.

Bigfork fell to Columbia Falls Saturday, 6-0, but the Valkyries still make the playoffs as the third place team in the conference with a 2-4 conference record and 4-5 record overall this season.

The Valkyries will face defending state champion Laurel on the road Saturday at 1 p.m.

“It’s going to be a tough matchup for sure,” head coach Tim Gunzler said. “But, we should have our complete starting lineup healthy and ready to play for the first time in a while, so we’ll see what happens.”

Cross Country

The Vikings runners took third in their final tuneup before Divisionals Thursday, finishing behind only Mission and Loyola at the Hatchery Challenge and Guppy Run in Arlee.

Bigfork finished with 61 points, behind Loyola’s 59 and Mission’s 51.

Colton Ballard recorded the top time for the Vikings, coming in 10th at 20:11 while Elliot Sanford was 11th at 20:17, Shelton Woll was 12th at 20:30, Colton Wroble was 14th at 20:45 and Elijah Albert was 27th at 22:24.

Tabitha Raymond was the lone runner for the Valkyries, coming in fifth with a time of 24:03.

Both teams were in action at divisionals in Thompson Falls at press time Tuesday.

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Brette Guenzler takes a shot for the Valkyries against Columbia Falls Saturday. Jeremy Weber/Bigfork Eagle

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Asa Barrett makes a pass against the Wildcats Saturday. Jeremy Weber/Bigfork Eagle

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Bigfork's Traic Fainter battles for possession of the ball against Columbia Falls Saturday. Jeremy Weber/Bigfork Eagle

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Viking Ben Pilskalns moves into position to take a shot against Columbia Falls Saturday. Jeremy Weber/Bigfork Eagle