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Beau-na fide - Big Sky’s Beau Donaldson bulldozes way through Class AA
Beau-na fide - Big Sky’s Beau Donaldson bulldozes way through Class AA

Beau Donaldson has been called a bruiser, a bulldozer, a wrecking ball, a battering ram and even a gridiron ballerina.

"They're all nice to hear," said Missoula Big Sky's 223-pound senior. "I guess I like the bulldozing fullback. That's always a good one."

Truth is, Donaldson has been called a lot, but he's also heard his name and number called a bunch on the football field the last three seasons. And guess what?

Not much stops him.

The school's all-time leading rusher is a tough one to tackle. Opponents have been known to stack up their fronts, eight-thick at times, and still Donaldson can't be slowed.

"Everybody keys everything on him," Eagles head coach Gary Ekegren said. "We're not razzle-dazzle up there; we're either right over center or off tackle."

Ekegren likes to share stories about games like last week when Donaldson ran for two key first downs for Big Sky late in the game.

"Everybody in America knows we're going to give it to him," Ekegren said. "I mean we blocked for him and our line has done an admirable job this season, but there are more bodies there than we can block, so he has to take care of the rest. He's just a competitive kid."

Being that Donaldson is a bigger back, sometimes the holes aren't always there.

"After I get the ball I try to find whatever crease I can," he said. "From then on, it's be your own blocker. The coaches call it BYOB, be your own blocker, and you have to do that once in a while."

It's not uncommon for entire defenses to pile on the "Beaudozer," in an attempt to bring him down.

"It feels good," said Donaldson of the free rides. "Right when you get up and you see them all there. You just hand the ball to the ref, it's a good feeling."

Donaldson, a two-time all-state pick, is Class AA's leading rusher heading into Friday's regular season finale. He leads CMR's Hank Slaughter by 115 yards. Donaldson has 1,317 yards and averages two touchdowns a game.

Donaldson keeps piling up the carries. He has 254 this fall, a school best for a season, as are the 17 touchdowns he's scored. He needs 38 yards to surpass Carter McGrath as Big Sky's single-season rushing leader.

Donaldson owns all the career records at the school. And he's not done adding to them yet.

"He has been so consistent," Ekegren said. "And there's a number of variables that come into play, but it starts with him.

"He's worked so hard in the weight room and that's given him a chance from that standpoint. He's a strong kid, with quicks. And he's got an inordinate amount of determination."

Donaldson often gives "shout outs" to his O-line and fellow running back Justin Montelius, who outgained Donaldson 110-92 yards in a win over Helena High last week.

"We decoyed Beau more in that game than we ever have before," Ekegren said. "And that didn't bother him. Whatever it takes to win, that's what he wants to do. That says a lot about his character."

Instead, Donaldson had the best defensive game of his career with 10 tackles, four for a loss, including two sacks.

Beau wants to play football in the Big Sky Conference, but knows he's not fast enough for running back. A linebacker or an H-back position like the one UM uses, would be more his speed.

Still, Donaldson is getting looks from teams like Eastern Washington, Montana State, all the Frontier Conference schools and even a trip to Montana.

"I want to play in the Big Sky Conference or higher," he said. "I've always had that dream, especially out here."

There is no certainty Big Sky will be playing next Friday in the playoffs. The Eagles (4-5) lost their first three games of the season before finding the right ingredients.

Big Sky closes with Glacier, the worst-rated run defense in all of Class AA.

"Our playoff hopes aren't up to us now," Donaldson said.

The Eagles haven't been to the playoffs since 2005, when Donaldson was a sophomore. They had a streak of four straight playoff appearances snapped last fall.

But with Beau shouldering the load, that could change.

"For three years he's been the lugger on the team and he's gotten a lot of the attention for it," Ekegren said. "But he's handled it well. He knows it's not about him, it's about us and that's what I like about Beau."

Lugger? There's one more name for the kid.

Donaldson, however, would like to add one more tagline before his time at Big Sky is done: playoff victor.

"That'd be huge," said Donaldson. "All the seniors on the team worked real hard this summer. We don't have a lot of kids, but we work hard and we try as hard as we can."

Reporter Nick Lockridge may be reached at 523-5298 or by e-mail at nick.lockridge@lee.net

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