Sorry I missed Tuesday's "What Caught My Eye," but I'm sure you guys managed without me just fine. I was a little busy with the All-Class State Volleyball tournament, and then I came under the weather for a few days. But I'm back now, looking forward to the weekend and the five football championships. I'll take a look back at my predictions and see where I stand going into the final weekend.
- I predicted Helena Capital to upset undefeated Bozeman in the semifinal round, and I (i.e. the Bruins) came up one point short. Capital missed the extra point in the second overtime, and Bozeman grabbed the 24-23 win behind another outstanding performance from Tanner Roderick (342 yards passing and 110 yards rushing). In the other semifinal, Helena High held off Billings West's comeback attempt. The Bengals took a 20-6 lead, but the Bears closed the gap to 20-18 with just seconds remaining. West failed the two-point conversion, and Helena advanced to the championship against Bozeman.
- Now that my championship prediction is already wrong (I took Helena Capital 24-21 over Helena High), I think I get to make a new prediction. Bozeman just keeps finding ways to win, and their defense is better than people give them credit for. They held the Bruins to just 10 points in regulation and kept Capital's running game pretty much in check. Helena, on the other hand, is known for its defense. The vaunted West rushing attack totaled only 64 yards against the Bengals last weekend, while Helena racked up 193 yards on the ground. Neither school has won a championship in almost 80 years (Helena last won in 1932 and Bozeman in 1917), so somebody is going to end a Chicago Cubs-type drought on Friday.
My updated Championship Prediction: Bozeman 28, Helena 27
- I didn't nail the Class A predictions, but I feel like I put forth a really solid effort. I took Billings Central to beat Butte Central 26-17 and Miles City over Dillon 20-14. The Rams and Cowboys earned 28-14 and 13-8 wins, respectively, so my championship prediction is still a possibility.
- Miles City travels to Billings Central for the second time this season, this time for the State A championship. In the first meeting, the Rams' defense put up one of their best performances of the season, shutting out the Cowboys' offense. Miles City managed only 137 total yards (-3 passing) and committed four turnovers. Central's offense didn't exactly light it up, accumulating 263 total yards and committing three turnovers, but Cole Moller threw two touchdown passes to give the Rams the 14-0 win. The defenses will be key again this go-around, as the weather likely isn't going to be conducive to good offense.
Championship Predicion: Billings Central 27, Miles City 20
*I stand by last week's prediction, but I doubt it's this high scoring...maybe 14-7.
- Based on the box scores, it certainly looks like Fairfield is rolling now. I predicted a close Eagles win over Manhattan, but they blew the Tigers out, 44-12. I missed on the Bigfork-Cut Bank game, as Travis Knoll and the Vikings upset the Wolves, 28-14.
- Like the two classes mentioned above, the State B championship is a rematch of a regular season tilt. Fairfield handled Bigfork 26-7 earlier in the season, but the Vikings have been on a tear since the loss. Knoll continues to put up big numbers, and Cody Dobbs has flown under my radar. He rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries last week against Cut Bank. The Eagles are led by quarterback Matt Patterson on offense, who threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns against Manhattan. Both defenses have been solid in the playoffs, so this match-up, to me, comes down to which team can enforce their style of play. If the Vikings can shorten the game by pounding the ball with Knoll and Dobbs, they have a great chance to win. But if Fairfield can keep their defense off the field and control the tempo with their offense, the edge goes to Fairfield.
Last Week's Championship Predicion: Fairfield 28, Cut Bank 20
*I'm still taking Fairfield, but I'll say the final score will be: Fairfield 21, Bigfork 14
- I actually predicted both winners in Class C (8-Man) correctly, but I expected a lot more points than the teams put up. Wibaux topped Drummond 24-12, and Chinook held off Power-Dutton-Brady 28-26.
- From what I've seen, there are four key names to watch in this game: Tyler Molyneaux and Ben Stroh from Chinook and Jaylen Sokoloski and Collin Harrell from Wibaux. Tyler Molyneaux missed most of last weekend's game against Power-Dutton-Brady with a leg injury, but Zach Molyneaux stepped in admirably, finishing with 122 yards. I haven't heard anything about Tyler Molyneaux's availability for Saturday, but, if he doesn't play, the advantage definitely shifts towards the Longhorns. Wibaux is a run-first team built around Sokoloski and Harrell, but the passing game is improving, and, offensively, they are probably more balanced than the Sugarbeeters.
Championship Predicion: Chinook 38, Wibaux 34
*Like in Class A, I stand by last week's prediction, but I don't think it will be this high scoring (especially with really bad weather expected on the hi-line)...I'm thinking Chinook 24, Wibaux 18.
- I doubt there are many fans surprised at the Class C (6-Man) match-up. Denton and Savage have been two of the top ranked teams all season, and they both came up with wins in the semifinal round last weekend. Denton ended Hysham's "Cinderella run" 47-26, and Savage survived Big Sandy's upset bid, 41-38.
- Savage and Denton appear to be very evenly matched on paper. I haven't seen either team play, but both offenses are capable of putting up plenty of points, and both defenses are capable of keeping opposing offenses off the scoreboard. For Denton, it's Cole Jelinek and Joel DeVries. For Savage, it's Chris Reynolds and Shad Stanford. Of all the championship games, I think this one could very well be the most entertaining. It's going to be a great weekend across the board.
Championship Predicion: Denton 38 Savage 30
*I'll stand by this prediction, too, but, in Savage, I'm very hesitant...