Out of reach

Red Devils hold Herders short of prolonged postseason action

WORDEN — On Oct. 27, an unforgettable season came to an abrupt conclusion as the No. 7 Red Devils stood their ground against No. 9 Big Timber, coming away with a 32-20 win against the Herders in the first round of the Class B playoffs. 

John Rennie surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season with the extra playoff game, but it was his Huntley Project counterpart, Lane Sumner, who was ultimately victorious Friday. 

With Rennie rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown against the Red Devils, Sumner – Huntley’s leading rusher, was tasked to impress. Which he did. The Montana State University commit went for 257 yards and three touchdowns, giving the Red Devils the necessary edge. 

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“It’s way tougher because, we watched these guys on film, we knew we could play with them and we did play with them,” said head coach J.V. Moody. “We just had some unfortunate mistakes and turnovers killed us. The drive stoppage of that…if we could’ve got up 14 [points] they’d been the ones deflated instead of us.”

The Herders came out with a strong, 68-yard drive on the ground only, culminating in Rennie’s only score. The ensuing Huntley Project drives were a three-and-out, and an interception by Blake Finn inside the Red Devils’ 20 yard line.

But an interception on the very next play by Finn, and another in the end zone as time expired on the first half, put the Herders in a hole early, 19-7.

The Red Devils maintained their pace and even went up 26-7 early in the third quarter. The Herders got back on track with another 63-yard drive ending in a Finn 1-yard run, making it 26-14, but it was a classic case of too little, too late for the Herders. 

The Herders graduated a handful of critical players, such as their leading rusher in Rennie, receiver Hayden Mosness, clutch kicker Junior Mosness, among others. But with the entire offensive line returning, and an all-around athlete such as Casey Gunlickson and third-year starting quarterback Finn coming back, the Herders are certainly poised to continue the tradition they’ve began. 

“We lose a lot, we do lose a lot of guys,” Moody said. “But we’ve got a lot coming back, though. We’ve definitely got some holes to fill, but we’ve got a lot of kids coming back. And that transition between sophomore and junior year can be huge.”

This season was more than just a pipedream; it became reality – very quickly – after the Herders toppled then-No. 6 Jefferson on the road. Winning out was a necessity to make the playoffs, and as the Herders rolled through the bottom half of their district, the expectation continued to rise. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands now, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net.

PHOTO CAPTION: John Rennie stiff arms one Huntley Project defender while another chases him down Oct. 27 during the first round of the Class B playoffs in Wordon. The Red Devils won 32-20, and Rennie rushed for 133 yards. (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer)

By STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Pioneer Staff Writer

 

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