This afternoon's Class A quarterfinal game between Billings Central and Columbia Falls will be the first time the Rams and Wildcats have ever played on the football field.
That's not too surprising considering the distance between them is more than 400 miles. The postseason is the only chance for them to get together, and while Central has been a regular participant in this decade, it's not the same for Columbia Falls.
In fact, the Wildcats' dramatic 27-26 victory over Corvallis in the first round last week is believed to the program's first playoff win since the school joined the Class A ranks in the 1960s (Columbia Falls was Class AA from 1980 to 1985).
Central, meanwhile, is the defending Class A champion and has won 21 straight games dating to the beginning of the 2007 season.
Regardless, Central coach Jim Stanton doesn't want his No. 1-ranked Rams overlooking the Wildcats in today's game, which starts at 1 p.m. at Wendy's Field at Daylis Stadium.
"Columbia Falls is an athletic team," Stanton said. "They have real good team speed. They had some early losses, but they matured and grown at some positions."
Stanton says the Wildcats are somewhat like Hardin.
"They run a version of what Hardin does, the jet sweep and the fly sweep. They have one back and two slots and run a lot of sweeps. They're 75 percent run, but their quarterback throws well."
The Rams, of course, are one of the best running teams in the state. Their Wing-T offense averages 305 rushing yards per game and a whopping 6.6 yards per carry. The main threat is fullback Aleksei Grosulak. The 190-pounder has racked up 1,295 yards (7.9 per carry) and tallied 18 touchdowns.
"They're a very good football team," said Columbia Falls coach John Thompson. "They run an offense that is tough to deal with. We're going to have to play a near perfect game. Our kids are excited for the challenge. It should be a great experience."
The Wildcats also have two good ground gainers, Mackey Nolan and Stephen Baumgartner, who've combined for over 1,600 yards. Nolan's rushed for 864 yards and Baumgartner has 841. Baumgartner is coming off a season-high 157 last week.
Mitchell Wassam has thrown for 563 yards and five touchdowns.
In other Class A quarterfinals today, Dillon plays at Havre with the winner playing host to the Central-Columbia Falls winner; Miles City makes the long journey to Polson and Hardin goes to Frenchtown. All four games will kick off at 1 p.m.