Slim's picks: Predicting Week 3's football games

The first week of the 2014 high school football season brought wild finishes across the state. Billings Senior and Jefferson rallied for impressive come-from-behind wins against Butte and Deer Lodge, respectively.

The second week saw teams in every class earn statement wins. Kalispell Glacier beat Great Falls CMR, Dillon shut out Polson, Fairfield ended Missoula Loyola’s 24-game winning streak, Arlee toppled Superior and Hot Springs took care of Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap.

What does Week 3 have in store for football fans? On paper, it's the most appetizing weekend of the short season. Picks:

* indicates a “game of the week”

Class AA

September 11, 2014 11:00 pmLoading…
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Billings Cup: Senior boys strengthen lead in standings

Senior’s girls are already halfway done with their intra-city matches, and the defending Billings Cup winners have dug themselves a hole. Already 0-2-0 with 1-0 losses to West and Skyview, the Broncs are near elimination. By winning their first Cup match, the Falcons moved into a tie with West for the top spot, each team sitting on three points. Provided there isn’t a draw between West and Skyview on Sept. 18, the victor will go to six points, meaning Senior would have to win its final two matches just to reach that total.

Senior’s boys picked up a big three points – and a big plus-5 in goal differential – with their 6-1 win over Skyview on Tuesday. Skyview will be under pressure to get at least a draw in their Sept. 18 meeting with the Golden Bears if the Falcons want to keep from getting left behind by the top-sitting Broncs and second-place Bears.

Senior’s teams won’t have another Cup match until Sept. 30.

BOYS

Team  W-L-T  Pts.  GF  GA  GD 
Senior  1-0-1  +5 
West  0-0-1  -- 
Skyview  0-1-0  -5 
September 11, 2014 9:46 pmLoading…
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Slim's picks: Predicting this week's football games

Coaches will tell you that teams make the biggest improvements from the first game to the second. If that’s the case, this weekend should be a better barometer to gauge teams than opening weekend.

There were some wild games to get the season started, and there are some more intriguing matchups this week. It’s a busier schedule, too, so there are sure to be some fireworks around the state.

My picks:

* Indicates a “game of the week”

Class AA

September 05, 2014 12:08 am Video Loading…
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AA football: Players to watch

AA football: Players to watch

Jayson Leinwand makes a catch in the endzone for Billings West's only touchdown Friday during the Billings West vs. Kalispell Glacier football game at Wendy's Field at Daylis Stadium.

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from individual athletes.

Montana annually sends more than a few players to Division I college football programs, and there are definitely some of those types of prospects in the state again. It’ll be interesting to track where some of these players decide to play their collegiate ball, but for now we get to watch them tear it up on the high school gridiron.

Here are five players to watch this season (with a local slant), as well as the other names submitted on Twitter:

Nolan Timmons, RB/DB, Billings Senior – Timmons was a popular write-in vote on Twitter, and for good reason. The senior earned all-state honors at safety last season and is taking over as the lead running back in Senior’s run-heavy offense.

Tre’von Dixon-Strong, WR/DB, Billings Skyview – Like Timmons, Dixon-Strong got a ton of support on social media. He’s an explosive athlete, combining speed and strength with excellent ball skills.

September 04, 2014 6:05 pm Photos

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A football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from individual athletes.

Montana annually sends more than a few players to Division I college football programs, and there are definitely some of those types of prospects in the state again. It’ll be interesting to track where some of these players decide to play their collegiate ball, but for now we get to watch them tear it up on the high school gridiron.

Here are five players to watch this season (with a local slant), as well as the other names submitted on Twitter:

Holden Ryan, RB, Billings Central – Ryan is as dangerous as they come with the ball in his hands. He’s a threat to score every time he touches it, and Central will look to frequently get him in space.

“Obviously his ability speaks for himself,” said Billings Central coach Jim Stanton. “He’s a team player, and whatever it takes to score points and stop (opposing offenses), he’s all about that. He’s a special kid that we’re going to lean on pretty hard.”

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B football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from individual athletes.

Montana annually sends more than a few players to Division I college football programs, and there are definitely some of those types of prospects in the state again. It’ll be interesting to track where some of these players decide to play their collegiate ball, but for now we get to watch them tear it up on the high school gridiron.

Here are five players to watch this season (with a local slant):

Casey Cole, QB, Forsyth – Cole, entering his second season as the Dogies’ starting quarterback, will be just a sophomore. Last season, Forsyth coach Chris Hess said Cole was “kind of a wonder boy,” noting his dual-threat capabilities. With a year under his belt, Cole will be asked to shoulder a bigger load.

Tanner Miller, OL/DL, Huntley Project – Miller is a beast on the offensive and defensive lines for the Red Devils. He earned second-team all-state honors last season and then won the state discus title in the spring. Now a senior, he’s part of a deep and talented Huntley Project team looking to build on last season’s success.

September 04, 2014 5:55 pm Related Loading…
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8-Man football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from individual athletes.

Montana annually sends more than a few players to Division I college football programs, and there are definitely some of those types of prospects in the state again. It’ll be interesting to track where some of these players decide to play their collegiate ball, but for now we get to watch them tear it up on the high school gridiron.

Here are five players to watch this season (with a local slant):

Walker McKitrick, QB, Ennis – Sure, the Mustangs graduated current Montana State receiver Connor Sullivan, but McKitrick will ensure the defending champions are in the mix again. He had a hand in all 10 touchdowns in Ennis’ win over Wibaux in last year’s state championship game.

Derek Heggen, QB, White Sulphur Springs – Heggen is in his third season as the Hornets’ starting quarterback. He tossed 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year (he also led the team in rushing), but take away the two games against Ennis, and he only threw three picks.

September 04, 2014 5:50 pm Video Related Loading…
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6-Man football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from individual athletes.

Montana annually sends more than a few players to Division I college football programs, and there are definitely some of those types of prospects in the state again. It’ll be interesting to track where some of these players decide to play their collegiate ball, but for now we get to watch them tear it up on the high school gridiron.

Here are five players to watch this season (with a local slant):

Cooper Olson, QB, Westby-Grenora – Quarterbacks on good 6-Man teams are always going to put up big numbers, and Olson definitely is no exception. He had some monster performances last season, and he does a good job of putting his playmakers in position to do damage.

Gavin Melichar, RB/LB, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap – Melichar tore his ACL at the end of last season. Before the injury, though, Melichar was averaging better than 13 yards per carry and had scored 20 touchdowns.

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Billings Cup: West girls take initial lead after win over Senior

The Billings Cup, as we here at GazPrepSports like to call the head-to-head competition among the Billings Class AA soccer teams*, is underway again.

* We put out a call last season for alternative names but received no other suggestions, so we kept it basic. You got a better name? We’d love to hear it.

The West girls took the first three points with Madison Marlenee’s late header on a corner kick from Maja Lundberg in a 1-0 victory over defending Cup winner, and state champion, Senior on Tuesday. The West and Senior boys had to settle for a 2-2 draw, each taking home a valuable point in this hotly contested competition.

As we told you last year, and it bears repeating, there is no actual Cup at stake here.* Only pride.

* Though if someone would like to fashion one, or donate an old one, perhaps we could do something with that.

September 03, 2014 8:25 pmLoading…
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First impressions: Billings Senior and Butte

I took in Friday’s doubleheader at Daylis Stadium where Kalispell Glacier beat Billings West 31-7 and Billings Senior rallied to beat Butte 30-27.

Here are some of my impressions of Senior and Butte. For my thoughts on Glacier and West, click here.

In the nightcap, Senior rallied for an improbable win over Butte. Both teams struggled in the first half – Butte lead 7-2 at the break – but the offenses got rolling as the game went along.

For the Broncs, sophomore quarterback Nathan Dick settled down and became more confident in the second half. He was a completely different player in the two halves. A lot of that stemmed from Senior’s altered offensive attack. Kaelen Shay came in and ran the ball with power, which changed the dynamic.

The rest of Senior’s offense is built on speed, but Shay’s more of a hard-nosed running back. His 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was a great example of that.

August 30, 2014 5:40 pm Video Loading…
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First impressions: Kalispell Glacier and Billings West

I took in Friday’s doubleheader at Daylis Stadium where Kalispell Glacier beat Billings West 31-7 and Billings Senior rallied to beat Butte 30-27.

Here are some of my impressions of Glacier and West. For my thoughts on Senior and Butte, click here.

We’ll start with Glacier, the top-ranked team in Class AA’s preseason coaches polls. The Wolfpack looked the part of the state’s best team in their relatively easy win over West.

Brady McChesney was solid at quarterback, but Logan Jones is the guy that makes the Glacier offense go. Jones totaled 173 yards on just 14 touches (six carries, eight receptions) and scored one touchdown. He’s a threat to break a big play every time he touches the ball, and demonstrated fancy footwork along the sideline on his touchdown reception.

Beyond McChesney and Jones, though, Glacier still has plenty of weapons. Offensively, coach Grady Bennett’s crew will be just fine.

August 30, 2014 5:35 pm Video Loading…
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Kimmel column: Kicking off the football season with championship predictions

Football is in the air. The 2014 high school season kicks off in a matter of hours.

Every team at this time of year is undefeated, with the same aspirations of reaching the state playoffs at the end of the season. For some, that dream will eventually become reality.

Then, beginning in November, each week represents a one-game season. It’s win-or-go-home time, and anything can happen in the playoffs.

But it’s a long season before the brackets are determined. Some teams will live up to their lofty preseason expectations, some will falter and others will emerge as unlikely contenders.

Bozeman, Dillon, Missoula Loyola, Ennis and Geraldine-Highwood won championship hardware last season. Who will take home the crowns this season?

August 28, 2014 10:30 pm Related Loading…
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Slim's picks: Predicting the opening-weekend football games

As I sit here on the eve of the 2014 high school football season, I still can’t really believe it’s already upon us. It wasn’t long ago that Bozeman, Dillon, Missoula Loyola, Ennis and Geraldine-Highwood were hoisting the championship hardware.

Those teams may be the defending champions, but as this weekend’s games set to kick off, the slates are clean. The pursuit of the 2014 state titles starts now.

Here are my picks for who’s going to get started off on the right foot:

(Note: Last season, I had some free time one Friday afternoon, so I decided to attempt to pick the winner in every game on the high school football schedule. It turns out I wasn't terrible at making picks, and I'm told people liked to read who I thought would win each game. So I'm going to be making picks every week this season. I assure you I have no allegiance to any team and I never pick "against" a team. It's all in good fun. I'm picking games listed at gazprepsports.com/scores, so let me know if you see any inaccuracies on those schedules. I'll pick a "game of the week" in each class and provide a few brief comments on what I think are some of the more interesting matchups. Good luck to all the players, coaches, teams and fans this season!)

* indicates each classification’s “game of the week”

August 28, 2014 10:00 pmLoading…
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Girls basketball recruiting notebook: Montana boasts another strong class

Girls basketball recruiting notebook: Montana boasts another strong class

Helena Capital’s McKenzie Johnston, a senior-to-be, verbally committed to play college basketball at Montana. Johnston is one of a handful of girls basketball players in the state considered to be Division I talents.

Though there isn’t a headliner like Olivia Roberts or Jill Barta in this year’s junior or senior classes, Montana still boasts a strong group of girls basketball players that features four or five potential Division I recruits.

“We’re missing the really big dogs,” said Missoula Sentinel coach Karen Deden, “but I think, overall, a lot of teams have improved.”

Deden, who played her college basketball at the University of Washington from 1988-91 and then professionally in Japan and France, has coached three DI players the past three years at Sentinel.

Roberts is at Wyoming after winning three consecutive state titles with the Spartans. DJ Reinhardt, a 2012 graduate, and Maddie Keast, 2014, are at Montana.

Deden called another future Grizzly, Helena Capital’s McKenzie Johnston, the best high school player in the state. Beyond Johnston, Hamilton’s Taylor Goligoski and Jaylee Albert and Great Falls’ Lizzy Klinker and Nora Klick are also in the mix for DI scholarships, though it’s unlikely all four end up playing at the top level.

August 09, 2014 7:15 pmLoading…
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Big Sky schools showing interest in Betcher, Samuelson, Manuel

The spring and summer AAU circuit can eventually start to wear on athletes.

Jared Samuelson, Kendal Manuel and the rest of their Anthony Davis Select team, which included Missoula Hellgate’s Tres Tinkle, were on the road for much of July, traveling to Seattle, Anaheim and Las Vegas on consecutive weekends for tournaments.

The hope for the players is that the summer exposure will lead to more interest from college programs around the state. If the goal is to play Division I basketball, getting in front of as many coaches as possible this summer was a necessity.

Manuel is still waiting for his first scholarship offer from a D-I program, but plenty of schools have shown interest, according to the Billings Skyview senior-to-be.

Manuel said he’s received interest from Air Force, Army, Boise State, Denver, Idaho, Idaho State, Montana, Oregon State and Sacramento State, as well as from Division II programs Alaska Anchorage and Northwest Nazarene (Idaho) and Division III Willamette (Ore.).

August 01, 2014 5:31 pm Video Loading…
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Is it time for AA football to make some changes?

Is it time for AA football to make some changes?

Billings West's James Oblander (17) runs in heavy traffic in the Bears' game with Missoula Big Sky in Billings last season. Under a new Class AA football proposal, this would have likely been a non-conference game.

The Class AA football landscape has long been discussed, and nothing has really changed.

Currently — and for the foreseeable future — there are 14 teams that each play 10 regular-season games. All of those games are conference games to determine the eight playoff teams.

It’s pretty simple, but the Montana High School Association is apparently going to hear another proposal to alter the existing landscape. The new proposal suggests aligning the class into two seven-team conferences, presumptively using the same model as basketball.

Eight games would be counted towards playoff seeding, leaving the schools the option of playing out-of-state games for their other two regular-season games. Some prep football fans are making a small push to get Montana’s largest classification to play teams from neighboring states.

The thought is that would raise the level of competition, while bringing exposure and excitement to Montana high school football.

July 22, 2014 4:09 pmLoading…
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Weyer, Dawson continue to develop all-star chemistry

During Montana’s lackluster offensive performance in the Badlands Bowl against North Dakota, Eric Dawson shined as one of the bright spots.

Dawson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound tight end from Great Falls CMR who is going to Carroll College to play linebacker, finished the game catching six passes for 103 yards and the game’s first touchdown. He built a strong chemistry with Bozeman quarterback Will Weyer that was evident that game, and it's continued to the East team’s practice for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game in Laurel.

“Eric’s the man,” Weyer said. “He’s an unreal tight end. He’s kind of our go-to guy. I can pretty much throw the ball up to him, and he’ll go get it.”

There were a couple plays like that at the Badlands Bowl in Dickinson, N.D., and Weyer has an obvious comfort level with Dawson. On one possession at a Tuesday practice, Weyer, who will play college football at Montana, completed three passes. Two of those went to Dawson.

“It’s nice to have somebody that can give you the ball when you’re open,” Dawson said. “And even when you’re not, he’ll put the ball up and let you make a play.”

July 16, 2014 8:21 pm Video Loading…
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Jared Samuelson picks up offer from Montana

Jared Samuelson picks up offer from Montana

Jared Samuelson of West rises up to dunk in front of Jameson Willems of Skyview during the first half on Feb. 4, 2014.

Jared Samuelson, a 6-foot-7 senior-to-be at Billings West, picked up a scholarship offer to play college basketball at the University of Montana.

It’s the first offer from a Division I school for Samuelson, who also currently holds an offer from Division II Montana State Billings.

“I just feel blessed for both of the offers I’ve received,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson’s AAU team, Anthony Davis Select, just wrapped up a tournament in Seattle. They lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion.

Samuelson said he was also contacted by Seattle University, Columbia (N.Y) University and Santa Clara (Calif.) University following that tournament. He’s received phone calls and text messages from Air Force, Boise State, Denver, Idaho, Mary (N.D.), Montana State and Wyoming, as well.

July 14, 2014 3:26 pmLoading…
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West's Betcher attracting Division I attention

It’s hard to make sense of the NCAA recruiting rules, but basketball coaches are entering into the first of three “evaluation periods” in July.

The first evaluation period is a five-day stretch beginning Wednesday afternoon. Tres Tinkle of Missoula Hellgate, Jared Samuelson of Billings West and Kendal Manuel of Billings Skyview are hoping to catch the attention of more Division I coaches during that time, as we’ve already chronicled.

Another West standout, Danny Betcher, is hoping to build off of earlier contact with the programs at Austin Peay (Tennessee), Portland State, Purdue, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Washington State.

“I just want to keep working hard,” the senior-to-be said. “I’m hoping that colleges will be interested; I’ll do everything I can to make it that way. I’m hoping to have an offer or two on the table by (high school) basketball.”

Betcher plays on the Montana Hoops AAU team, which includes athletes from around the state. Other players on the team are Tyler Thompson of Laurel, Adam Huse of Bozeman, Henry Garrett of Helena, Mark Lebsock of Hellgate and Matt Wyman and Lukas Vining of Great Falls.

July 09, 2014 2:46 pm Video Loading…
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Montana all-stars keep mood light ahead of Badlands Bowl

MILES CITY -- Having been to a few of these summer all-star practices over the past few years, I'm always amazed out how quickly the teams seem to come together. This year's Montana football team for the annual Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl is no different.

There was plenty of joking and laughing at Wednesday's practice -- including from head coach Troy Purcell of Bozeman. Purcell had linemen Thomas Bear Robe of Billings Skyview and Jack Hape (I think) of Bozeman fielding punts during one drill. The players got a good laugh of the big fellas chasing down stray footballs.

That's just one example of how the coaches and players are keeping the mood light as they prepare for Saturday's game in Dickinson, N.D. against the North Dakota all-stars.

Montana has a 15-5 edge in the series, winning the last three games.

The Montana players know they're expected to win this game, and Miles City's Ben Herzog, who will play his college football at Dickinson State, said the team takes pride in the opportunity to continue the head-to-head success. Herzog will line up mostly at safety, but he's been playing some cornerback in practice and is the emergency backup quarterback to Will Weyer of Bozeman.

June 18, 2014 9:30 pm Video Loading…
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Headlines

Slim's picks: Predicting Week 3's football games

The first week of the 2014 high school football season brought wild finishes across the state. Billings Senior and Jefferson rallied for impre…

September 11, 2014 11:00 pmLoading…

Billings Cup: Senior boys strengthen lead in standings

Senior’s girls are already halfway done with their intra-city matches, and the defending Billings Cup winners have dug themselves a hole. Alre…

September 11, 2014 9:46 pmLoading…

Slim's picks: Predicting this week's football games

Slim's picks: Predicting this week's football games

Coaches will tell you that teams make the biggest improvements from the first game to the second. If that’s the case, this weekend should be a…

September 05, 2014 12:08 am Video Loading…

AA football: Players to watch

AA football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from indivi…

September 04, 2014 6:05 pm Photos

Photos

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A football: Players to watch

A football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from indivi…

September 04, 2014 6:00 pm Video Related Loading…

B football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from indivi…

September 04, 2014 5:55 pm Related Loading…

8-Man football: Players to watch

8-Man football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from indivi…

September 04, 2014 5:50 pm Video Related Loading…

6-Man football: Players to watch

The 2014 season started last weekend with a full slate of games. There were some great games, too, with some big-time performances from indivi…

September 04, 2014 5:45 pm Related Loading…

Billings Cup: West girls take initial lead after win over Senior

The Billings Cup, as we here at GazPrepSports like to call the head-to-head competition among the Billings Class AA soccer teams*, is underway again.

September 03, 2014 8:25 pmLoading…

First impressions: Billings Senior and Butte

First impressions: Billings Senior and Butte

I took in Friday’s doubleheader at Daylis Stadium where Kalispell Glacier beat Billings West 31-7 and Billings Senior rallied to beat Butte 30-27.

August 30, 2014 5:40 pm Video Loading…

First impressions: Kalispell Glacier and Billings West

First impressions: Kalispell Glacier and Billings West

I took in Friday’s doubleheader at Daylis Stadium where Kalispell Glacier beat Billings West 31-7 and Billings Senior rallied to beat Butte 30-27.

August 30, 2014 5:35 pm Video Loading…

Kimmel column: Kicking off the football season with championship predictions

Football is in the air. The 2014 high school season kicks off in a matter of hours.

August 28, 2014 10:30 pm Related Loading…

Slim's picks: Predicting the opening-weekend football games

As I sit here on the eve of the 2014 high school football season, I still can’t really believe it’s already upon us. It wasn’t long ago that B…

August 28, 2014 10:00 pmLoading…

Girls basketball recruiting notebook: Montana boasts another strong class

Girls basketball recruiting notebook: Montana boasts another strong class

Though there isn’t a headliner like Olivia Roberts or Jill Barta in this year’s junior or senior classes, Montana still boasts a strong group …

August 09, 2014 7:15 pmLoading…

Big Sky schools showing interest in Betcher, Samuelson, Manuel

Big Sky schools showing interest in Betcher, Samuelson, Manuel

The spring and summer AAU circuit can eventually start to wear on athletes.

August 01, 2014 5:31 pm Video Loading…

Is it time for AA football to make some changes?

Is it time for AA football to make some changes?

The Class AA football landscape has long been discussed, and nothing has really changed.

July 22, 2014 4:09 pmLoading…

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Slim Kimmel

Online sports editor for The Billings Gazette.

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