Behind Jaxson Yanzick’s four-touchdown display, Jefferson High’s football team clinched a spot in the District 5B playoffs, walloping Three Forks on Friday night, 35-0.
Jefferson got down to business early. After forcing a three-and-out punt on Three Forks’ first possession, the Panthers started on their own 43 – and on third and 12, Braden Morris hit Yanzick for a score. Dylan Root’s PAT was good, and just like that, it was 7-0 Panthers.
The rest of the half was more of the same. With 2:31 left in the first quarter, Morris lofted a pass that looked like it might be intercepted. But the high-jumping Avery Stiles grabbed the ball and ran in for six. Yanzick put the Panthers on the scoreboard again with 10:26 remaining in the second, dashing into the end zone on a 2nd-and-20 run.
Meanwhile, the Panther defense was doing its job: Jefferson allows the fifth-fewest points per game in Division B statewide thanks to plays like Coen Guisti’s backfield tackle that set the Wolves back to their own 7-yard line. A rare offensive interference call on the Panthers kept them out of the end zone that time, and the half ended 21-0.
Jefferson used multiple players in the second half and still added two more touchdowns. Yanzick made a terrific move, running right, stopping suddenly to dodge a Three Forks defender, and then taking off for a few more yards. His score with 2:05 left in the third made it 28-0. And a pass from Morris to Yanzick and another PAT by Root put the Panthers up 35-0. From there, the clock was in mercy-rule mode, running non-stop.
With the win, the Panthers assured they can finish no worse than third in district 5B, were the top four teams will advance to post-season play. Jefferson (4-1 league, 4-2 overall) hosts Big Fork next Friday in a non-conference match-up, then play Manhattan (4-0, 6-0) in the final regular season game. They would seize first place if they best Manhattan – and if Manhattan beats Broadwater (4-0, 5-1) and Broadwater, in turn, falls to Columbus. Columbus is 2-2, 3-3, Sweet Grass County is 1-3, 2-5, Whitehall is 0-4, 2-5, and Three Forks is 0-5, 0-6.
Meantime, the top teams in Class B West are Eureka 4-0, 6-0, Florence 3-1, 4-2, Missoula Loyola 2-1, 4-3, and Big Fork 2-2, 3-3. In the North Fairfield is 4-0, 6-0, Malta is 4-0, 6-0, Glasgow is 3-1, 4-2, and Cut Bank is 2-2, 2-5. In the East, it’s Red Lodge at 4-0, 6-0, Huntley Project at 4-1, 5-2, Shepherd at 3-1, 3-3, and Colstrip at 2-2, 3-3.