Cats down Chiefs for first win of the season

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Wildcat runner Brad Nieves makes his way past Ronan defender Trapper McCallister. (Jeremy Weber photo)

A week removed from their season-opening loss to Polson, the Wildcats looked like a different football team at Ronan Friday as they cruised to a 37-6 victory against the Chiefs.

Led by 357 all-purpose yards from quarterback Mason Peters, Columbia Falls amassed nearly 500 yards of total offense while holding the Chiefs to just 235.

We fixed a lot of things and we didnt turn the ball over this time. Our offensive line was also much more clear on their assignments, too, head coach Jaxon Schweikert said. We cut the playbook down a bit and really focused on what we wanted to run. Our kids are warriors and we like to come up with a good game plan and then go execute it and that is exactly what we were able to do tonight. Our coaches did a great job putting a plan together for us and it worked perfectly.

Peters finished the game 29 of 35 passing for 296 yards and two touchdowns and added 61 more yards and another touchdown on the ground. The Cats also got 67 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Isaac Balla, who also caught three passes for 39 yards.

Brayden Stone led the Wildcat receiving corps with seven receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown while Brad Nieves caught four passes for 58 yards and Cade Morgan had 45.

Finn Coleman also got into the act at the end of the game, running for 75 yards on five carries in the fourth quarter.

The Cats got on the scoreboard on their first possession of the game as Peters capped off the drive with a touchdown run from one yard out.

An interception by Nieves in the closing minutes of the first quarter helped set up a touchdown pass from Peters to Jaxon Heinz early in the second quarter that put the Cats up 13-0 before the PAT was blocked.

The Cats tacked on three more points just before the half as kicker Niels Getts connected on a 43-yard field goal attempt to put Columbia Falls up 16-0 at the break.

Columbia Falls was able to recover its own kickoff to open the second half and the Wildcats quickly added to their lead as Balla took the ball in from 18 yards out to push the lead to 23-0.

Stone had perhaps the most spectacular catch of the night on the next Wildcat possession as Peters found him in the back corner of the end zone for a tiptoe catch along the sideline for a 30-0 Columbia Falls advantage.

Ronans only score of the night came with 1:32 to play in the third on a 25-yard pass, but the Wildcat defense stuffed the Chiefs at the goal line on a 2-point conversion try.

Balla added one more rushing touchdown as the Cats picked up the win.

The Cats will host their first home game Friday as they take on rival Whitefish, a game that Schweikert says he and his players will be fired up for.

A lot of coaches say they are just another game, but I embrace rivalry games. I think rivalry games are what make high school sports fun. Its a big deal for the town and the fans and it is a big deal to us, he said. I dont know that we really prepare differently for Whitefish, but we see a different energy from the kids and it is infectious for the coaches as well. Any bumps and bruises will be put aside for this game and everyone will come out ready to play, no matter what.

The opening kick is set for 7 p.m.

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