Red Lodge stuffs Shepherd on Senior Night, 40-14

Stephen Kalb-koenigsfeld
Special To The News
Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Red Lodge's Trey Allen leads the celebrations after the game. Photos by Colleen Vomund

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Trey Allen, Red Lodge, stiff arms an opponent on his way to a touchdown.

Rams secured second-straight Southern B Division title, back to playoffs
It was a nod to an old-school showdown with Lambeau Field-type temperatures and precipitation on Oct. 23. But there was no chilling affect that could dampen the Rams’ spirits, as they rolled to a 40-14 win against Shepherd on Senior Night at Palisades Field.
With the win by 12-plus points, the Rams (5-2, 3-1 Southern B) secured their second-straight Southern B Division title and head back to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. A three-way tiebreaker between Red Lodge, Shepherd (4-3, 3-1 Southern B) and Huntley Project (3-1, 3-1 Southern B) was determined by points after the games concluded Oct. 23.
“We were playing to get home-field advantage in the playoffs,” said senior Elijah Reynolds. “Getting wins like this, even though they weren’t as clean as last year, will get us on the right track for the playoffs.”
It was game that saw the top teams in the Southern B Division neck and neck up until the final quarter, when junior quarterback Trey Allen punched in a touchdown to go up 27-6. On the first play of the Mustangs’ ensuing drive, quarterback Shawn Garcia-Spindel tossed a pick to Owen Reynolds. Junior Jay Jetmore found a 10-yard burst into the end zone to put the game away, up 34-6 mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Senior Night was particularly special to a group of players who have seen the lowest of lows, and highest of highs. In his first year as head coach, John Fitzgerald led a group of freshman through a learning experience of a season. Three years later, he has that same group setup with home-field advantage through the entire course of the postseason.
Win, and they keep playing at home. Red Lodge has never hosted a state title game.
“This was our last regular-season home game,” Elijah said. “But when we were talking about it in the locker room before the game. [Coach Fitzgerald] was talking about how this was a special night for us seniors. Freshman year, a lot of us played [varsity] and we went 0-8. Sophomore year, we won a couple games and lost pretty bad in the playoffs. Junior year, we came up kind of short. So senior year means a lot.”
Elijah himself had a fitting evening for his final regular-season game, catching six passes for 77 yards and rushing twice for eight yards. His play as a blocker for Jetmore was as notable as his personal stats, helping his running back carry the ball 19 times for 174 yards and three scores.
Allen found just two receivers on the night, going 8-for-19 with 82 yards passing and a 17-yard touchdown toss to Jetmore, helping the Rams out to a 6-0 lead early. Heading into halftime, the Rams had a marginal 13-6 lead.
Consequently, the Mustangs had virtually no offense. The Rams defense Friday night – one the 2019 Rams would have been jealous of – held the Mustangs to just 29 first-half offensive yards. But 90 first-half penalty yards gave Shepherd some life moving through three quarters. By game’s end, the Mustangs found just 95 total yards of offense.
Red Lodge committed 17 penalties for 151 yards.
Despite the woes in discipline at the line of scrimmage, nothing exemplified the mood more than with just more than six minutes left in the game. Coach Fitzgerald pulled the starting varsity members, including some seniors such as Elijah, and allowed the junior varsity squad to get reps in against Shepherd’s first-team offense and defense.
And the seniors couldn’t have been happier for the underclassmen.
“Outside of a couple of [the seniors] not a lot of them had a lot of varsity experience,” Fitzgerald said. “So the first month of the year, we had some growing pains. But [the seniors] have done a real nice job of bringing out younger kids along. I’m sure proud of the leadership our kids exhibit.”
Owen found a 28-yard touchdown during his time at starting quarterback last in the game, and Shepherd’s Samuel Stene ran it for the Mustangs’ final score of the game with just a couple minutes left in the night.
Moving forward, the Rams will try to continue progress though the Class B state tournament. They’ll host rival Columbus on Oct. 31 at noon. It’ll be a rematch that saw the Cougars walk away with a win earlier this season, 62-40.
Seniors being honored this night were Trey Allen, Owen Reynolds, Elijah Reynolds, Malcom Mann, Brennan Humberston and Levi Bender.
2020 Class B football state playoffs First round, Oct. 30-31
Columbus at Red Lodge
Glasgow at Eureka
Colstrip at Manhattan
Bigfork at Malta
Missoula Loyola at Fairfield
Whitehall at Shepherd
Conrad at Florence
Huntley Project at Townsend.