COLUMBIA FALLS and HAMILTON – The Class A state championship heads back to Columbia Falls, as the Wildcats are hosting the final for a second consecutive year. This time, Hamilton travels north for the rematch of a great game back on Sept. 1.
Columbia Falls jumped out 13-0 in Hamilton, but the Broncs came back to take the lead. A fourth-quarter touchdown by Wildcats quarterback Austin Green finished off a 23-20 victory.
Hamilton has not lost since. The 20 points were by far the Broncs’ lowest output of the season. The Broncs’ high-powered offense has scored at least 32 in every other game.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ shut-down defense has given up a combined 33 points over their past seven games, so something has to give on Saturday.
“It’s kind of like fire and ice a little bit,” said Hamilton head coach Bryce Carver. “Their defense is extremely, extremely good. We’re fortunate enough to have some pretty skilled kids on offense, too. Just like when we played them earlier, it was just a war for 48 minutes.”
“With them, we want to take away their short pass game and their screens,” said Columbia Falls head coach Jaxon Schweikert. “We want to make them throw the ball down the field. They’ll get a couple. They’ll get a couple shots down the field. But if we can do a good job and keep that percentage lower … the further down the field the lower the percentages come, and the more our pass rush can get there.”
Columbia Falls also hosted last year’s state championship, losing to Dillon in the final. The Wildcats have never won a state title, having only played in the championship in 2016 and 1970.
Hamilton has not made it this far in 17 years. The Broncs have played four times in the Class A championship, and they all came in a four-year span from 1997-2000. Hamilton won titles in ’97 and ’98.
The two teams play every season, so they know each other well. The’ll kick off with a state championship on the line at 1 p.m. on Saturday.