HELENA – The reclassification discussion continued this week in the Montana high school football world. The Montana High School Association announced four teams have been approved to join 6-Man football following the MHSA’s executive board meeting earlier this week.

The four programs – Broadview-Lavina, Hot Springs, Gardiner and Denton-Geyser-Stanford – will each move down from 8-Man football next season. Hot Springs, which won 6-Man championships in 2012 and 2016, moved to the 8-Man ranks last year but was forced to play a junior varsity schedule. Injuries prohibited the Savage Heat from finishing the season.

The other three programs finished the 2017 season at the bottom of the 8-Man South standings. Broadview-Lavina went winless, posting an 0-9 season, while Gardiner won only one game and Denton-Geyser-Stanford two this fall.

Last year, the MHSA executive board approved new classification enrollments, which allowed an additional 10-percent leeway that would allow schools to remain in lower classifications. Those enrollments were:

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Class AA: 779 students or more (compared to 826 students or more previously)
Class A: 307-778 students (compared to 340-825 students previously)
Class B: 108-306 students (compared to 120-339 students previously)
Class C: 107 students or fewer (compared to 119 students or fewer previously)

However, football has its own classification guidelines, with the same 10-percent leeway available. The MHSA confirmed on Wednesday that those numbers remain as follows:

Class AA: 901 students or more
Class A: 351-900 students
Class B: 131-350 students
8-Man: 66-130 students
6-Man: 65 students or fewer

The moves will create changes to the leagues in both 8-Man and 6-Man, with conferences announcing new alignment. The 6-Man South and 6-Man West will gain two teams, with the 6-Man North adding one. The new divisions for 6-Man football are as follows:

*indicates team placed in new division

East: Bainville, Froid-Medicine Lake, Ekalaka, Jordan, Richey-Lambert, Savage, Terry, Wibaux, Westby-Grenora.
North: Augusta, Big Sandy, *Denton-Geyser-Stanford, Geraldine-Highwood, Heart Butte, North Star, Power-Dutton-Brady, Sunburst, Valier.
South: Bridger, *Broadview-Lavina, Custer-Hysham, Fromberg-Belfry, Grass Range-Winnett, Northern Cheyenne, *Plenty Coups, Reed Point-Rapelje, Roy-Winifred, Shields Valley.
West: *Hot Springs, *Gardiner, Lincoln, Lima, Noxon, St. Regis, Sheridan, Valley Christian, West Yellowstone, White Sulphur Springs.

The loss of the four teams from the 8-Man ranks creates new-look leagues across the state, with the 8-Man South taking the biggest hit after losing Broadview-Lavina, Gardiner and Denton-Geyser-Stanford. Hot Springs was in the 8-Man West last season.

The divisions for the 8-Man football season in 2018-2019 are as follows:

East: Broadus, Circle, Culbertson, Fairview, Forsyth, Lame Deer ,Lodge Grass, Plentywood, St. Labre, Scobey.
North: Belt, Box Elder, Cascade, Centerville, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Chinook, Choteau, Fort Benton, Great Falls Central, Hays-Lodgepole, Rocky Boy, Simms.
South: Absarokee, Ennis, Harlowton, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap, Joliet, Lone Peak, Park City, Twin Bridges.
West: Arlee, Charlo, Darby, Drummond-Philpsburg, Plains, Saint Ignatius, Seeley-Swan, Superior-Alberton, Troy, Victor.

Other changes approved during this week’s MHSA executive board meeting include:

  • Stevensville-Victor tennis cooperative reassigned from Class A Northwestern Division to Class A Southwestern Division.
  • Tentatively approving the Class B-C wrestling realignment from four divisions to two divisions.

Those wrestling divisions are currently proposed as follows:

*indicates a team in a new division

Eastern Division: Baker, Belt, Broadus, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Chinook, Circle, Colstrip, *Columbus-Absarokee, Forsyth, *Fort Benton-Big Sandy, Frazer, *Glasgow-Nashua, *Great Falls Central, Harlem, Hays-Lodgepole, Highwood, Huntley Project, *Malta-Whitewater, Poplar, Shepherd, Simms, Wolf Point.

Western Division: Anaconda, Arlee, Bigfork, Cascade, Choteau, Conrad, Cut Bank, Deer Lodge, Drummond, Eureka, Fairfield, Florence-Carlton, Jefferson, Lone Peak, Manhattan, *Plains-Hot Springs, *St. Ignatius-Charlo, *Superior-Alberton, Shelby, Thompson Falls, Three Forks, Townsend, Valier, Whitehall.