Jacob Stanton’s part-time gig just became full-time.
The Billings Central senior standout began the football season as half of a quarterback tandem with junior Sean Ward. But Ward suffered a torn ACL in last week’s season opener against Hamilton, forcing Stanton — arguably the best Class A wide receiver in the state — into full-time quarterback duty.
Based on his performance in Saturday night’s 50-13 rout of Anaconda at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium, Stanton is more than up to the task.
“I just have to accept it and do what’s best for the team,” said Stanton, who threw for 155 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 37 yards. “I’m getting all the reps in practice now, so that will help me keep improving every week.”
Stanton completed 5 of 9 passes, including strikes of 60 and 47 yards to wideout Holden Ryan. The 60-yarder went for a touchdown.
“He’ll have to be the guy for us now,” said Jim Stanton, Jacob’s dad and the Rams’ head coach. “Jacob had a good week of practice … I think once he realized this is it, he settled in and started being more assertive. He knows our offense really well, and he does a good job of controlling the huddle.”
After a bit of a slow start, the Rams dominated Anaconda on Saturday night, improving to 37-3 in their last 40 home games dating back to the 2007 season.
Luke Daly hit a 21-yard field goal to give Central a 3-0 lead, but a fumble on the Rams’ second possession gave Anaconda the ball on the Central 7. That resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Dylan Flack to give the Copperheads a brief 7-3 lead.
The Rams took over from there, scoring 47 unanswered points for a 50-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Daly drilled a 40-yard field goal to get Central to the 50-point mark. In between, the Rams got three touchdown runs from Connor Cerkovnik, one each from Austin Barthel and George Smith, Stanton’s TD strike to Ryan and a safety.
“We came out a little flat, but once we got rolling we played pretty well,” said Cerkovnik, who rushed for 66 yards and TDs of 3, 4 and 5 yards. “We really lean on our line. Those guys do a great job of opening holes and we have a lot of guys who can run the ball.
“We just have to play every down. We can’t come out flat like we did tonight … that shows we still have room for improvement, so we just have to keep working every week.”
The Rams rushed for 236 yards and finished with 404 total yards while holding Anaconda to 153 yards.
Central (2-0) is at Butte Central on Friday before returning home on Saturday, Sept. 15 for a showdown with defending state champion Dillon.
“We’ve done some good things in these first two games,” said Jim Stanton. “We’ve competed real well and made some good adjustments at halftime in both games. Butte Central will be a good test … they put up 61 points on Friday against Havre (a 61-19 win), so we’ll have to play solid on defense.”