Oct. 27—In the 12 seasons Jaxon Schweikert has guided the Columbia Falls football program, the Wildcats have had their share of prolific quarterbacks.
Dakota Bridwell, who threw 49 touchdown passes as the 2016 Wildcats advanced to the State A title game, is one; Jared Trinastich, who threw for 2,891 yards on a 9-1 squad in 2013, is another.
To the list we submit Cody Schweikert, who happens to be the coach's son but who also stands 6-foot-4 and completes passes at an alarming rate.
In his third season as a starter, Schweikert's throws have found a Columbia Falls receiver 78 percent of the time. His performance for the 6-2 Wildcats — who play host to rival Whitefish in a State A playoff game tonight — has raised his career completion percentage beyond.700, which would be a state record.
The youngest of four Schweikert kids started at linebacker as a freshman for Columbia Falls, then added signal-calling duties in 2021.
"I think he's just a good football player," his dad said this week. "He's good at quarterback because he processes information quickly. And he has a repeatable arm slot, so he's extremely accurate.
"But he's really a football junkie so he always is studying film, putting in the effort and constantly trying to improve."
Cody Schweikert remembers being an eighth-grader and asking his junior high coach, Dave Kehr, if he could try QB.
"I think I just came to him before the season and asked him," he said. "I told him I'd work really hard and that I think I can do it."
Jaxon Schweikert submits there was some talk to try him there on the varsity Wildcats his freshman year as well, before he and his assistants made a playoff run with Mason Peters.
Since then, Cody Schweikert has thrown for 5,650 yards and 53 touchdowns.
"I knew I had the physical ability," the senior says now. "But football has little to do with physical ability; I think it's probably 90 percent mental. If you don't know what you're doing, it's almost impossible to play.
"Looking back now I can see, OK, I knew very little."
Look at him now. His gaudy stats, along with repeated visits to the University of Montana football camps, landed Schweikert an offer with the Grizzlies. He intends to take his shot at a crowded quarterback room.
Any championship run will have its share of good breaks, but the Wildcats had to overcome a bad one on Sept. 15: In the Wildcats' 20-14 overtime loss at Whitefish, running back Reggie Sapa suffered a fractured leg.
"He kind of just landed weird," said Jaxon Schweikert. "It was non-contact. But that's been tough because Reggie is a huge, huge part of the team."
In addition to playing safety and running back, Sapa was holder for kicker Kai Golan, the Cats' top return man and the long-snapper for punts.
"And backup QB," his coach said. "He and Cody are best friends and were quite the duo there. A lot of our kids have worked hard to pick up the slack both offensively and defensively."
The offensive backfield is deep and filled with excellent football names: Alihn Anderson. Blaise Cronk. Branden Torpen. Rowdy Crump.
"We have a really good stable of backs," Jaxon Schweikert said. "They catch the ball, they run hard, they block well."
Meanwhile Cody Schweikert is the team's top rusher with 457 yards and seven TDs, running more as the Wildcats adjust to their personnel.
"He's a very capable runner," his dad said. "In those games they outnumbered us in the box, we run more read-zone. He has the green light to pull it. It's kind of how we get our power run game going, is our running backs will lead for Cody."
But if they all had their druthers...
"That's been hard," Cody Schweikert said. "Reggie and I had been managers for the football team from second or third grade. For about 10 years now we've been running around at home games, and on the road. It's hard not having him around because that's by brother sitting on the sideline while I play.
"That's OK, we'll get to play together in basketball, and baseball."
A text message to the 4.0 student early in the week went unanswered. Turns out he hadn't looked.
"Most kids are all over their phones," his dad said. "He's not."
Perhaps he was breaking down film. His 1,898 passing yards this season are down a little from 2022, but the Wildcats are personnel-driven. It's notable that the year after Bridwell graduated they won their lone State A title, in 2017, behind a Colten McPhee-led running attack.
The past three seasons they've relied heavily on the quarterback's decisions and execution.
"It's usually a two- to three-read system," Cody Schweikert said. "Identifying coverage and blitzes. ... Looking at it from the outside, I guess I'd say it's a highly complex offense."
The rewards are plenty.
"It's really fun to throw touchdown passes to celebrate with my teammates in the end zone," he said. "It's fun to go out and throw the ball around. When everybody's getting the ball, everybody's happy. It's nice to make everybody happy."
"As a coach and dad, we're really proud of Cody," Jaxon Schweikert said. "Not just because of the success but also the job he's done representing the school, our community and family. And he's had to earn it. I think he's a good football player, and he's a really, really good leader. Just a very humble kid who treats everybody well. Just a good human being."
Next is another shot at the Bulldogs. Whitefish was the second loss in two weeks for the Wildcats; the week previously they narrowly lost to unbeaten Dillon, 22-19.
"Super excited," said the quarterback of the rematch. "You never know what's goi