Even by Class C 6-Man football standards, Hot Springs has dominated opponents this season. The Savage Heat are rolling into the quarterfinals, but Bridger is also undefeated, Westby-Grenora hasn’t lost since Week 1 and the perennially strong 6-Man North, along with the East, still has three teams remaining in the playoffs.
The matchups: Bainville at Hot Springs, Saturday, 1 p.m.; Richey-Lambert at Valier, Saturday, 1 p.m.; Geraldine-Highwood at Westby-Grenora, Saturday 1 p.m.; Sunburst at Bridger, Saturday, 1 p.m.
2015 champion: Denton-Geyser-Stanford (moved to 8-Man football after 2015 season)
2016 favorite: Hot Springs
The 2016 season is starting to look a little like the 2012 season when Hot Springs won the first and only state football championship in school history. The Savage Heat defeated Big Sandy 77-0 in the 6-Man championship that year and are again dominating opponents this season. Behind touchdown-scoring machine Trevor Paro, Hot Springs has outscored opponents 679 points to 32 this season. In last week’s 66-0 first-round win over North Star, Paro broke Montana’s all-time touchdowns record. He now sits at 123 total touchdowns with three potential games remaining.
Streaking in: Bridger
Hot Springs isn’t the only undefeated team remaining in the Class C 6-Man playoffs, though, as Bridger also brings in a 10-0 record. The Scouts, the 6-Man South champions, beat No. 4-seed Jordan 51-20 in the first round, and will now play No. 3-seed Sunburst. Bridger coach Mike Mathis takes pride in the team’s defense built around linemen Ryan Zentner, Kaleb Buessing and Dillon Jones, and that’s been the Scouts’ calling card this season, despite owning an offense that scored 92 points in a win over Fromberg early in the season.
Biggest surprise: Sunburst
White Sulphur Springs didn’t suffer its first 6-Man loss until Oct. 14, starting 7-0 in its first season in Montana’s smallest classification. The Hornets then lost two of three games, including last week’s first-round loss to Sunburst. The Refiners, who entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of the 6-Man North, ran to a 56-20 win at White Sulphur Springs to secure a berth in the quarterfinals. Mike Buckley and Treyton Pickering combined for nine scores in last week’s win, along with Jordan Williams on defense, will help lead Sunburst on the road to undefeated Bridger.
Best quarterfinal matchup: Geraldine-Highwood at Westby-Grenora
Geraldine-Highwood and Westby-Grenora get reacquainted in the Class C 6-Man playoffs after playing for the 2014 state championship, which Geraldine-Highwood won 37-20. The 2016 versions of these teams are obviously different, but they’re still programs accustomed to success. Both teams enter Saturday’s game with one loss – Geraldine-Highwood losing to 6-Man North champion Valier and Westby-Grenora losing to 6-Man South champion Bridger in the season-opener – though the Thunder got through the first round a bit easier. They rolled past Custer-Hysham 67-16, getting big games from Brian Field, Kade Guenther, Jeremiah Paine and Daulton Holecek. Geraldine-Highwood rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit and then held on for a 54-52 win over Valley Christian. Five different players scored touchdowns for the Rivals in that game, led by JR Spencer’s three.