MISSOULA — Flint Creek’s offensive prowess has been no secret this season.
What sometimes doesn’t get enough credit in the offensive-oriented 8-man game is defense, and the Titans have a ironclad defense to complement their high-scoring offense.
The Drummond-Philipsburg co-op (11-0) gave up just eight total points across its first two playoff games and will try to keep its dominant defense going when it hosts the Circle Wildcats (9-2) in an 8-man semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday in Drummond.
The winner will play in the championship game against the winner of Forsyth (11-0) and Ennis (10-1).
“I won’t tell you a player who stands out on defense,” Flint Creek head coach Mike Cutler said. “That’s the beauty of this defense. It’s not one person. It depends on what offense is thrown at us. We’ve won without interceptions and had games with a few interceptions because teams throw the ball.
“I would not even begin to single out one player. We’re not winning because of one or two players. We’re winning because of the team.”
Flint Creek shut down Lone Peak in the first round, winning 64-0. The Big Horns came into that game averaging 34.8 points.
In the quarterfinals, Flint Creek limited Fairview to one touchdown and a two-point conversion in a 46-8 win. The Warriors had entered the game averaging 60.6 points.
The Titans are limiting teams to 10.2 points per game, and that number should be lower.
They’ve allowed 102 total points, and 30 of those came when Cutler played a junior varsity roster against St. Ignatius so the starters could rest and avoid injuries since the playoff seedings were determined. Some points in the fourth quarter of other games came against a JV defense, too.
“I couldn’t say enough about our defense,” Cutler said. “Our defensive coordinator, JC Holland, does a fantastic job. We spend a lot of time on discipline and run fits and pass responsibilities, making sure their eyes are in the right spots and making sure they’re attacking the right shoulder. The No. 1 attribute is the defense is disciplined, and No. 2 is they’re well coached.”
Now the Titans will try to slow down a Circle team that is averaging 54.9 points per game The Wildcats are led by running backs Trey Taylor and Calder Fleming. Cutler called both “very physical.”
Circle is playing on the road for the third consecutive playoff game. It's won seven games in a row after falling to 2-2 with back-to-back losses to Forsyth, which plays in the other semifinal, and Fairview, which lost in the quarterfinals.
The Wildcats beat Centerville, 68-14, in the first round and knocked off Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap, 34-22, in the quarterfinals. They’re allowing 26.6 points and posted a second-half shutout against Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap to come back from a 22-20 halftime deficit.
Flint Creek will bring in an offense that’s averaging 53.6 points per game. The Titans have scored 46 or more points in nine out of 10 games with a season low of 34 points in that game against St. Ignatius.
“We’re expecting a really smashmouth type of football game,” Cutler said. “We pride ourselves on being as physical as we can. I think they do the same. I think that’s what could come down to deciding the outcome.”