The Class AA football regular season concludes this Friday, and there are still plenty of playoff seeds to be determined.
The eight playoff teams are finalized: Billings Senior, Kalispell Glacier, Billings West, Bozeman, Helena High, Missoula Big Sky, Helena Capital and Missoula Sentinel will be playing in November. However, the order of the seeding, especially for the Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 spots, is up in the air.
Here’s what we know:
Billings Senior will be the No. 1 overall seed and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Broncs wrapped up an undefeated season with last week’s win over Billings Skyview, since they get their forfeit win with Missoula Hellgate on the schedule this week.
Kalispell Glacier, Billings West and Bozeman will host first-round playoff games. Some combination of those three teams will be the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds.
Unofficially, it appears that Bozeman is locked into the No. 4 seed and Glacier has the inside track for the No. 2 seed with a win over Missoula Big Sky on Friday. That would make the top four seeds look like this: Billings Senior, Kalispell Glacier, Billings West, Bozeman.
If Glacier stumbles against Big Sky and West defeats Helena, those two teams would swap places in the seeding.
Where it gets especially interesting is the positioning in the lower half of the bracket. Any of Helena High, Helena Capital, Missoula Big Sky or Missoula Sentinel could capture the No. 5 seed, though it’s a long shot for the Spartans. They would need a lot of help.
It’s simplest for the Bengals: defeat Billings West and claim the No. 5 seed.
But if the Bengals lose, the tiebreakers set up nicely for Helena Capital. The Bruins have head-to-head wins over both Helena High and Missoula Big Sky and a slightly stronger strength-of-schedule than Missoula Sentinel.
However, if Big Sky defeats Glacier to set up a three- or four-way tie with Capital, Sentinel and potentially Helena High, that win would serve as the Eagles’ trump card and would likely vault them to the No. 5 seed. Since Capital and Sentinel never played each other this season, any tie involving those two teams immediately jumps to the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker, in which case a Big Sky win over Glacier would likely be the determining factor.
Clear as mud, right?
While there are plenty of scenarios that could potentially play out Friday, here’s how the simple scenario of higher-ranked teams winning on Friday (Kalispell Glacier over Missoula Big Sky, Billings West over Helena High, Bozeman over Billings Skyview, Helena Capital over Butte, Missoula Sentinel over Kalispell Flathead and Great Falls CMR over Great Falls High) would unofficially affect the playoff seeds:
Missoula Big Sky
MontanaSports.com will track all of Friday’s action and publish a Class AA playoff bracket as soon as the final seeds are determined.
If you’re looking for brackets from the other four classes – which kick off their playoffs this week – click here.