POCATELLO – A 2A state championship game berth was on the line Saturday afternoon as the undefeated Firth Cougars battled with West Side in a rematch from week one of the regular season.
In that opening game Firth was never challenged, much like the majority of the season but on Saturday, the Pirates came out fighting as they led for most of the contest. In the end the Cougars were able to fend off the pesky Pirates however as they escaped Holt Arena with a hard fought 22-14 victory.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game coming in,” Firth head coach Keith Drake said. “I have tons of respect for West Side’s coaching staff. They were right on us defensively on our different formations and things like that. They played us tough and it was a good test for our kids.”
Of course Firth’s coaching staff is no chopped liver and they displayed an adept touch at play calling late in the fourth quarter. With West Side driving for a potential game tying score the two teams lined up for a fourth and one on the Cougar 26 yard line. On the play, the Cougars executed a perfect run blitz to stop the Pirate runner a half yard short giving the Cougars the ball with 2:20 remaining.
“I had a pretty good idea that they would try to start inside and then pop it out on the edge so we called a blitz on the outside and the kids came up and made the play,” Coach Drake said. “Sometimes in the chess match you guess right.”
That defensive effort was prevalent throughout the contest from both squads as they each rose to the occasion on several would be scoring opportunities in the first half of play. West Side were able to get a 3 yard touchdown run from McCoy Roberts late in the first half for the 7-0 advantage. Firth ended the half with a failed hail mary attempt but more importantly, the Cougars lost starting quarterback Jake Orme to a collarbone injury, one that he was unable to reenter the game from.
Without their signal caller, the Cougars turned to Mitch Orme behind center and the mover was effective as he connected on an 8 yard touchdown pass to Dalton Cate with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. Orme followed that up with a two-point conversion pass to Connor Montgomery and the Cougars had their first lead of the game at 8-6.
“I just had to step up for this team so we could win but it wasn’t just me,” Mitch Orme said. “We had a sophomore step up at center and he did a job. We talked about how we needed to pound the ball and we did, it worked.”
West Side answered the Cougar score with a 31 yard touchdown run by Tate Fuller on the ensuing possession to regain the lead at 14-8. Firth never faltered however as they turned heavily to that running game, keyed by a Mitch Orme 12 yard run through the middle of the Pirate defense. Orme called his own number on the two point try and with 10:27 remaining, the Cougars led 16-14.
“We came out a little flat but we don’t give up, we fought and fought till the end,” Orme said. “We haven’t been behind this year so it felt pretty weird and maybe we were a little scared but we were up for the challenge.”
After a big defensive stop on the next possession Firth got the ball back and went to work on both the clock and salting the game away, a task that they effectively completed when Orme found Kent Jolley in the end zone from 24 yards out for the 22-14 lead with just 4:44 remaining.
Next up for Firth (11-0) a 2A state championship game with fellow unbeaten Declo next Friday in Holt Arena at 3 p.m.
FIRTH 22, WEST SIDE 14
West Side 0 7 0 7 – 14
Firth 0 0 8 14 – 22
W – McCoy Roberts 3 run (Coby Roholt kick), 2:43
F – Dalton Cate 8 pass from Mitch Orme (Connor Montgomery pass), 4:30
W – Tate Fuller 31 run (Roholt kick), 11:51
F – Mitch Orme 12 run (M. Orme run), 10:27
F – Matt Turnbow 24 pass from Mitch Orme (pass fail), 4:44
RUSHING: West Side – Jon O’Brien 13-56, Tate Fuller 6-31, McCoy Roberts 17-86, Trevor Montes 9-(-7), Coby Roholt 4-12, Dillyn Morgan 1-4. Firth – Mitch Orme 18-104, Connor Montgomery 12-30, Nick Anderson 2-5, Jake Orme 4-(-27).
PASSING: West Side – Trevor Montes 1-1-0 3. Firth – Jake Orme 5-12-2 42, Mitch Orme 4-7-0 62.
RECEIVING: West Side – Jon O’Brien 1-3. Firth – Dalton Crate 1-8, Kent Jolley 3-53, Connor Montgomery 4-29, Braden Boyer 1-14.