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

2014-08-28T22:00:00Z 2014-08-28T22:51:04Z Slim's picks: Predicting the opening-weekend football games The Billings Gazette

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”

Class AA

Billings Senior over Butte – The Broncs claim to have a lot of team speed. Butte has Montana’s fastest prep athlete in Dalton Daum. This one could be a shootout.

Kalispell Glacier over Billings West – Glacier is the popular preseason pick, while West is coming off a winless season.

*Billings Skyview over Bozeman – The Hawks may be the defending champs, but this is a completely different team. They’ll have their hands full with a Skyview team featuring a talented group of skill-position players.

Great Falls CMR over Missoula Sentinel

Helena over Missoula Big Sky

Great Falls over Kalispell Flathead

Helena Capital over Missoula Hellgate

Class A

(I admit that I know nothing about the teams from Idaho, Wyoming and Alberta, so I’m just picking the Montana schools.)

*Belgrade over Butte Central – These are two of the teams that figure to challenge Billings Central and Dillon atop the Class A. You won’t find a better opening-week game on the schedule.

Hamilton over Salmon, Idaho

Miles City over Powell, Wyo.

Polson over Raymond, Alberta

Frenchtown over Timber Lake, Idaho

Havre over Whitefish

Laurel over Cody, Wyo.

Columbia Falls over Lewistown

Libby over Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Sidney over Livingston

Class B

Big Timber over Three Forks

*Jefferson over Deer Lodge – Both of these teams are filling some holes after graduating a lot of starters, but they’ll likely contend for playoff spots. Jefferson coach Clint Layng is expecting a good game, and I agree.

Florence over Thompson Falls

Huntley Project over Columbus – This is another intriguing matchup, as Columbus returns a wealth of players on the perimeter. Huntley Project is deeper and more balanced, though, which is why the Red Devils are one the preseason favorites in Class B.

Shepherd over Joliet

Eureka over St. Ignatius

Plentywood over Wolf Point

Glasgow over Colstrip

Ronan over New Plymouth, Idaho – Like in Class A, I don’t know anything about the out-of-state team, so why not pick the Montana boys?

8-Man

*Belt over Simms – You know what I love about the Northern C? It’s tough, deep and every game matters. It doesn’t get much bigger than this one, as Belt and Simms are slotted as the division’s top two teams.

Wibaux over Broadus

Ennis over Broadview-Lavina – The last time Walker McKitrick was on an 8-Man field he had a hand in 10 touchdowns in the Mustangs’ championship win over Wibaux. What does he have in store for an encore this season?

Scobey over Circle

Victor over Kamiah, Idaho

Power-Dutton-Brady over Seeley-Swan

Chester-Joplin-Inverness over Centerville

Great Falls Central over Chinook

Culbertson-Bainville over Fairview

Cascade over Darby

Gardiner over Absarokee

White Sulphur Springs over Park City

Shields Valley over Harlowton

6-Man

Alberton over St. Regis – The MHSA broke up the Alberton-St. Regis co-op after just one season, and now St. Regis is only playing a JV schedule. Alberton could still be a playoff team, though.

Big Sandy over Heart Butte

Bridger over Billings Christian

Richey-Lambert over Ekalaka

Rosebud over Frazer

Geraldine-Highwood over Augusta

Savage over Froid-Lake

Box Elder over Valier – I’m intrigued by this Box Elder team. I think the Bears can make the playoffs, but they have to start with a win.

Westby-Grenora over Grass Range-Winnett – These were two of the top teams at the end of last season, and both should be solid again. Expect a lot of points between these two when they meet up in Hobson.

*Denton-Geyser-Stanford over Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap – The nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader pits two of 6-Man’s top teams against each other. Denton-Geyser-Stanford has serious title aspirations, and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap could be in the mix, too, if it can stay healthy.

North Star over Sunburst

Terry over Jordan

Reed Point-Rapelje over West Yellowstone

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