BILLINGS — It was a night of firsts for Helena’s Caden Suero at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
Billings Skyview ran a trick-play in the third quarter where quarterback Brock Bushfield pitched the ball to Dalton Macy. Macy then swung around and went to throw it to the opposite side of the field, but Suero, a defensive lineman, snagged it out of the air and gave possession back to Helena when Skyview was inside the Bengals' 20.
"They just put the ball there and it surprised me," Suero said. "When it hit my hands I dropped it and then a re-caught it."
Later in the game, Suero earned another first, this one in the form of a touchdown. The big man was lined up at the fullback position on the one-yard line and powered it in for his first career touchdown with about nine minutes left in the game. The second-half performance lifted the No. 2 Bengals to a 55-21 Class AA football win over Skyview on Thursday.
"We've been using (Suero) at fullback quite a bit throughout the year. Not many carries but just in crucial short-yardage situations," Helena coach Tony Arntson explained. "Caden's a very athletic big guy. He can be a fullback-type guy. You just watch that interception to see what kind of athlete he is."
Both teams ran the ball well, with Helena racking up 396 rushing yards. Kyle Tabbert had 15 carries for 150 yards and three touchdowns, while also catching five passes for 77 yards and a score. Grady Koenig carried the ball 23 times for 186 yards and a touchdown.
"Our line and receivers blocked amazingly," Tabbert said. "That's a tough thing to do is stay on those blocks downfield and they did a really good job. Those are team touchdowns."
The first half was slugging match as neither defense could stop any rushing attack. Skyview struck first, with a 13-yard run by Logan Rodacker. Tabbert responded with a 56-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Helena quarterback Kaleb Winterburn threw a deep bomb to Zach Huth, who hauled it in for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 27-14 with 31 seconds left before halftime. Skyview, which won against Great Falls CMR on a Hail Mary pass a week ago, found Bushfield scrambling around in the backfield before heaving a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jared Schaaf to send the game into halftime at 27-21.
"They came out and punched us in the face," Suero said. "And they kept punching us in the face in the first half. It finally woke us up in the second half. Our coach came in, told us it's up to us, and we started playing as a team and started playing our spots."
The second half was all Helena, however, as the Bengals blanked the Falcons and kept their offense chugging. Winterburn, a Montana State football commit, finished the game 13 for 20 on passing for 185 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, both by Rodacker.
Tabbert took a short pass 59 yards to the house just 44 seconds into the third quarter.
Helena won its fifth straight to improve to 6-1. Skyview is 2-6.
"These guys play hard," Skyview coach Ron Lebsock said. "They came out well against these guys. Things were looking pretty good and we had a few tough breaks, and that's the game of football. Sometimes you've got to make your own breaks. We'll do that and we'll pick it up and go again."