Lone Peak would advance to playoffs with a win at Deer Lodge
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
BIG SKY—In their final home game, the Big Horns set the tone by scoring 36 unanswered points against the Sheridan High School Panthers.
Junior quarterback Juliusz Shipman ran for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the game. Minutes later, he threw a 42-yard pass to freshman Ebe Grabow and senior Pierce Farr finished the effort with a two-yard rushing score. The Big Horn defense swarmed the Panthers, and Juliusz returned an interception for a touchdown. Junior George Helms returned a punt 38 yards, and then scored on a direct snap. In the second quarter, junior Bryce Houghteling caught a short pass near half field and leapt for the pylon to give the Big Horns a 36-0 lead.
“It was great that we could start fast, and get a score right away,” head coach Dustin Shipman said. “Our team really plays with a lot more confidence in themselves and their teammates when they have a little bit of a lead.”
Even with the excitement of a home win to keep Lone Peak High School in the playoff hunt, anyone at the game will tell you that senior Pierce Farr stole the show.
With the comfort of a five-possession cushion at halftime, the crowd shifted their focus to their linebacker, running back and only senior.
“And now folks, the man of the hour. No. 50, Pierce Farr,” Athletic Director John Hannahs announced over the PA system. With the rest of the team in the locker room, Pierce and his parents, Adam and Hannah, stood alone on the turf facing a boisterous home crowd.
“Pierce has been a varsity starter for all four years, and a defensive captain for three of those years for the Big Horns football team,” Hannahs said. “One thing he is especially proud of is being the original Big Horns water boy from third grade until high school.”
That tradition has carried on, as young boys continue to pace the sideline bringing water bottles to every huddle.
Hannahs said that Farr is a proud member of the honor society and senior vice president. He plans to attend Texas Christian University next fall, he loves to fish and hunt and he coaches flag football in Big Sky.
The crowd appreciated when Hannahs announced that Farr is a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor “to his favorite future Big Horn, Russell.”
Hannahs’ voice trembled as he finished reading his statement.
“As somebody who has known Pierce since he was very small, I cannot tell you how much we will miss you, what a hard worker you are, and just how proud myself and the rest of the school district are of all your accomplishments.”
The crowd of students began chanting “Pierce! Pierce! Pierce!” as no. 50 turned to join his team in the locker room.
Farr scored his second rushing touchdown to begin the fourth quarter, and with a 44-6 lead, the Big Horns began to ease off the gas. Young and second-string players including junior quarterback Aidan Germain began to enter the game.
With three minutes remaining, Farr was relieved from the game. He walked slowly toward the home sideline as his classmates applauded and called for his attention.
“I was not disappointed leaving, with all these great fans here cheering me on,” Farr said. “It was pretty surreal. You only get it once. I remember how it felt when the seniors did it last year.”
“[Tonight] will probably be the highlight of my career,” Farr said. “It’s so much fun playing with these boys and coming out on top. That was probably the best three quarters of football our team has played. You can’t do better.”
After the game, coach Dustin Shipman spoke to Farr’s impact on the Big Horns.
“Well, it was Pierce’s night, right? I remember watching him in sixth grade and knowing he was going to make a big impact on this program when he got here. He’s really going to be missed. We’re happy that we were able to honor him with a win. His teammates really came together around him to play their best tonight.”
The Panthers scored twice in the final two minutes of play, calling timeouts, attempting onside kicks and taking shots downfield to extend the game another 15 minutes in real time. Most of the loyal home fans stuck around, at one point singing “Country Roads” as they waited to honor Farr and celebrate the Big Horns final home victory.
Finally, the Big Horns took victory formation to kneel and run out the clock and the fans moved to the sideline as the team celebrated their 44-21 win.
Thirty-five miles west, playoff fate was unfolding.
After Ennis High School’s narrow 44-38 victory over Cascade High School on Friday night, the Big Horns would join the playoffs if they beat Powell County High School when they travel to Deer Lodge next Friday.
“Deer Lodge certainly isn’t a team we want to overlook,” said coach Dustin Shipman, at that point still hoping for Ennis to beat Cascade. “We want to focus on taking care of business next Friday night.”
Farr said it was crucial to beat Sheridan, and he hopes the Deer Lodge game will be a transition into playoff football to finish his career.
“I can’t believe that I don’t have any more games here,” he said. “I’m still happy with this win, but these guys—I’ll be here for their senior night next year for sure to cheer them on.”