BILLINGS – With Week 9 of the high school football season in the books, here is a look at some of the top storylines from over the weekend.
At last, the playoffs are upon us.
The Class A, Class B, and Class C 8- and 6-Man regular seasons came to a close on Friday and Saturday. With that, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, as those four postseasons will get underway this week.
It did not come without one last bit of drama to shake things up in the postseason picture. In Class A, top-ranked and defending champion Dillon was upset at the hands of the Hamilton Broncs 32-28 on Friday night. The win catapulted the Broncs (8-1) past the Beavers (7-1) in the Southewest A, as Hamilton clinched the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Dillon, which lost its first game since Sept. 30 of last year, will enter the playoffs as the Southewest A’s No. 2 seed and will take on a Western Division wild-card team, which will be Butte Central.
Hamilton joins Columbia Falls (6-1), Sidney (8-1) and Billings Central (8-1) as the four Class A teams with first-round byes. Sidney, the Eastern Division’s No. 1 seed, has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs while the Rams defeated the Laurel Locomotives Friday night to clinch the week off.
Playoff droughts come to an end
The new-look Class A saw a couple of significant playoff droughts end this year.
Some teams breaking playoff droughts in Class A include Glendive, as noted a couple of times before, which will be the East’s No. 6 seed and is making the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Browning will also make the postseason as the Northwest A’s No. 2 seed. According to Joseph Terry of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell and Scott Mansch of the Great Falls Tribune, it is the first time Browning has made the playoffs in 28 years.
In the Eastern Division, which is a combination of 10 teams from the old East and Central A, five of the six playoff teams are from the previous Eastern A. Lewistown, the No. 5 seed, is the lone Central A team to make the postseason.
The best for last
Three of the four No. 1 seeds for the Class B postseason were up for grabs heading into the weekend with some big games between some of the top teams in the classification.
By Friday night, they were all decided.
In the Class B East, Colstrip (8-1) locked up the crown with a dominant 33-8 win over Baker (4-4). In the Northern Division, Fairfield (8-0) took care of Shelby (5-3) in a battle for the North title, winning a grind-out game 13-10 to net the Eagles their seventh straight North title. Then, in the Class B South, Whitehall (9-0) held off Manhattan (6-2) 19-14. All three of these teams will join Eureka (7-0) as the top seeds heading into the postseason.
Broncs, Bears, and Wolves, oh my!
On Friday night against Helena Capital, Billings Senior locked up the No. 1 seed in the Class AA playoffs, which won’t begin for another two weeks.
The win for Senior (9-0) was its 22nd in a row and for a second consecutive year, the Broncs will enter the postseason as the top seed with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Senior will end its regular season this Friday when it takes on rival Billings West (6-3) at Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium.
The Golden Bears had some drama of their own on Thursday night to keep their hopes for a home playoff game alive. Trailing 30-0 halfway through the second quarter against Great Falls CMR, West rallied back to defeat the Rustlers 35-32. Alex Bruns threw for five touchdowns, finding Jesse Owens, Si Ryan, Korb Hanson and DeMarcus Carr for scores. According to Steve Schreck of the Great Falls Tribune, with just under a minute to play, CMR ran a trick-play from West’s 19-yard line but Trevin Gradney stripped CMR’s Garrison Rothwell on the five-yard line and Ryan fell on it as West completed the comeback and held off the Rustlers' late rally.
Other AA news includes Missoula Big Sky holding off a late rally from Kalispell Glacier to win 43-41. The win gives the Eagles (7-2) a home playoff game for the first time since 2004 according to the Missoulian’s Kyle Houghtaling. The loss knocked the Wolfpack (3-5) out of the playoff picture at the moment, and moved Bozeman (4-5) into the No. 8 and final spot. Glacier next plays Missoula Hellgate and will need some help from Billings Skyview when it plays Bozeman and Helena Capital when the Bruins take on Missoula Sentinel if Glacier hopes to get back into the postseason.
Forsyth’s drop to 8-Man football has gone smoothly to say the least.
In fact, it has been dominant.
The Dogies wrapped up their regular season on Friday when they defeated St. Labre 48-6 to finish the regular season season 9-0. The Dogies enter the 8-Man playoffs as the No. 1 seed from the 8-Man East after playing at the Class B football level a year ago.
In the eight games they have played this year, as one was a forfeit win, the Dogies are averaging about 55 points per game while holding teams to only about 12 points per game on average, with Scobey being an outlier having scored 36 points.
Forsyth will continue to be a force to be reckoned with as the postseason continues. The Dogies, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap (8-1), Belt (8-0) and Drummond-Philipsburg (9-0) will enter the playoffs as the top teams in 8-Man. The Titans had to battle in a division where Joliet (8-1) and defending champion Ennis (8-1) also pose serious threats as contenders.