MEDICINE LAKE — Luke Kelley had a hand in nine touchdowns to help Centerville to a 63-48 win over Froid-Lake in the 6-Man football state championship Saturday.
It's the first 6-Man title in program history for the Miners, who won 8-Man championships in 1999 and 2006. It's the fourth title for Centerville coach Brian Davison, who won three as a player at Highwood from 2004-06.
"This is a football community. They love their football and they have a lot of pride in it. For us to be able to bring this back to them, I can't believe. I'm at a loss for words at this point just to be able to add to the rich tradition that we have for football in Centerville," Davison said. "As a player these were fun. But now to see these kids put in the work that they do, the pride I have in them putting in the time and effort to get to this point, it's a feeling that's completely different than as a player to see these kids have the success they deserve."
Kelley, who has done it all for Centerville this season, found Kale Annis for a 69-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give the Miners a 6-0 lead after neither team scored on its opening possession. Froid-Lake answered with a Nate Stentoft scoring run, and the teams were tied at 6 after the first quarter.
Kelley gave the Miners some distance in the second quarter, though. He scored the game's next three touchdowns — runs of 2, 11 and 2 yards — to push Centerville to a 28-6 lead. Joseph Robertson caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Mason Dethman to get Froid-Lake back within 28-12 at halftime.
"That's what we want to do," Davison said. "To win championships in Montana you've got to be able to run the football. We pride ourselves on it."
"We have a great run game," Kelley said. "It's been like that all of playoffs. I enjoy running the ball and doing what I can for my team."
Kelley provided more fireworks in the third quarter, scoring three more touchdowns, as the teams alternated scores in the second half. Kelley threw a 50-yard touchdown to Caden Olson and ran in 10- and 36-yard TDs. Daniel Forisz returned a kickoff for a Froid-Lake touchdown, and Dethman and Stentoft hooked up for another Redhawks score. Centerville led 48-26 going to the fourth.
"(Kelley) is a kid we can rely on. He does everything for us," Davison said. "We can put the ball in his hands and he'll never stop. He'll just keep going. We trust the ball in his hands. He's a great athlete and he proved that again (Saturday)."
The teams continued to trade touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Dethman had a hand in three more for Froid-Lake — a 35-yard pass to Forisz to go with two scoring runs — while Kelly added two more Centerville touchdowns on the ground.
Centerville has just one senior on the roster and could be favorites to repeat come 2024.
"It is what we expect next year. We expect to be back here," Kelley said.