By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Senior Editor
BIG SKY – The Lone Peak High School six-man football team notched the program’s first ever playoff win on Nov. 1 in Big Sky. The Big Horns outplayed the North Star Knights on the way to a 50-33 victory, weathering a 30-minute lightning delay to set up a second-round game in Savage the following weekend.
“Our kids came out and really hung with [North Star],” said Head Coach Matt Bakken, noting the Big Horns didn’t let a first-quarter deficit faze them. “They battled back and rolled into that second quarter putting up 22 points.”
The Big Horns weren’t able to muster the same resolve the following weekend, when they traveled to No. 1-ranked Savage on Nov. 8 and lost, 77-14.
“They’re a tough, talented team that’s big and physical,” Bakken said. “We didn’t show up to play that day. We had a good game plan, but failed to execute.”
Although LPHS was unable to advance against Savage, winning its first playoff game versus North Star was a big step for the program. The team received accolades for its strong season with three players earning All-State honors and four receiving All-Conference nods.
Justin Mayse, Justin McKillop and Cooper Shea took home both All-State and All-Conference awards, and Tanner Burton was selected as an All-Conference player.
Next up for Big Sky football is the state all-star game in Custer held in June. Bakken said selections from the Big Horn team depend on how many seniors from other conferences are selected, but he expects up to four LPHS players could be chosen for the game.
While the high school football career is over for the six seniors on the squad – Mayse, McKillop, Shea, Burton, as well as Ben Michel and Micah Robin – Bakken said the program wouldn’t be where it is today without them.
“These seniors we have are a real special group,” he said. “Those six kids were here when the program first started, and many of them had never played football before. It’s quite an accomplishment.”