Hot Springs and Bridger will try to set up a matchup of undefeated teams in the Class C 6-Man football championship. The Savage Heat and Scouts are both undefeated entering Saturday’s semifinal games.
Hot Springs hosts Valier and Bridger travels to Westby-Grenora in rematches of games played during the regular season.
Valier at Hot Springs, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coming off another dominant performance – an 89-19 win over Bainville in the quarterfinal round – Hot Springs is the perceived favorite to win the 6-Man championship. Opponents haven’t been able to solve Hot Springs’ defense, as Bainville’s 19 points were the most allowed by the Savage Heat in a game all season. But 6-Man football is about the offense, and that’s especially the case for Hot Springs, which has scored on 96 of 115 possessions this season. Trevor Paro is the No. 1 threat on the Savage Heat offense, and has put together a season – and career – for the record books. He’s Montana’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 128 total TDs (74 rushing, 25 receiving, two passing, three defensive, and 24 on kickoff and punt returns). He had “only” three scores last week, though, so he’s not the only option in the Hot Springs offense. Kane Lawson had 198 rushing yards and seven TDs last week, too.
Valier actually played Hot Springs as well as anybody earlier this season. The Panthers lost 51-0 back on Sept. 2, but the 51 points were the fewest Hot Springs has scored in a game this season. Valier hasn’t lost since, winning nine consecutive games, including last week’s 45-43 thriller over Richey-Lambert. While the Panthers haven’t put up the same kind of numbers as the Savage Heat offense – they have a versatile attack of their own. Senior running back Isaac Ramos is small (5-foot-5) but dangerous in space, averaging more than 100 rushing yardsd per game. In the passing game, Valier’s strength is it’s height. Koltin Christiaens, the Panthers’ 6-3 quarterback, likes to throw deep to his favorite target, Colten Curry (6-6), who hauled in three touchdown passes against the Fusion often by simply reaching over top of smaller defenders. The Panthers will also need a big game from senior Colton Wheeler, who had a hand in five touchdowns in the quarterfinals on offense, defense and special teams.
Bridger at Westby-Grenora, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Undefeated Bridger has been tested in the first two rounds of the 6-Man playoffs, getting 54-20 and 78-47 wins over Jordan and Sunburst, respectively. Coach Mike Mathis prided his team on defense early in the year, but it’s been the offense carrying the Scouts the past couple weeks. The Zentners – Colby, Colter, Ryan and Russell – play big roles for Bridger, with Colter and Ryan each having a hand in seven touchdowns in last week’s win over Sunburst. Bridger’s first two playoff games were at home, and the Scouts now go on the road for the rematch with Westby-Grenora. They earned a 32-20 win the first time these two teams met, and will need another strong day from the defense, led by Dillon Jones, Ryan Zentner and transfer Kaleb Buessing on the line, if they’re to advance to the first state championship game in program history.
Westby-Grenora has hit its stride over the past month or so of the season, posting impressive wins over playoff teams Jordan and Richey-Lambert before entering the postseason. The Thunder ran away from Custer-Hysham and Geraldine-Highwood in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The spark came, according to coach Troy Walters, when Kade Guenther got healthy. He’s one of four seniors – Daulton Holecek, Aaron Lagerquist and Jeff Whitlow are the others – that serve as crucial leaders for Westby-Grenora, which has made the 6-Man playoffs every year of the co-op. In the Thunder’s offense, though, the team is reliant on its quarterback. Jeremiah Paine has had a nice season, passing for more than 2,000 yards and 42 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Westby-Grenora is looking to get back to the championship for the second time in co-op history. The Thunder lost to Geraldine-Highwood 37-20 in the 2014 title game.