Eureka celebrates back-to-back state championships after a 47-7 win over Shelby (MTN Sports photo).

EUREKA – Four Montana high school teams finished the football season undefeated with a state championship. But only one of them won each game by at least 23 points. The Lions provided a much-needed reason to party in Eureka.

The Lions had to change the game plan early against the visiting Shelby Coyotes in the championship. Star quarterback Garrett Graves injured his ankle on his first running attempt, keeping the future Montana Grizzly stuck in the pocket.

“Going into the game I think our plan was to run me quite a bit,” said Graves, who still played most of the game at quarterback and safety. “Things changed up, and our team stepped up huge. Shows you how good of guys I have around me. We’ve got a great team. I feel a little tender. I’m hurting. But I feel great about our team. My body’s hurting, but I feel great about our team.”

Graves still threw three touchdowns in the game, and helped the Lions jump out 13-0. But Shelby responded with a score, and had a few chances to take the lead. Then the champs hit another level in the second half.

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“We started off pretty good. But second quarter, we kind of felt a little sluggish there,” admitted running back and linebacker Brent Pluid. “We came out firing on all cylinders. It was awesome to finish the way we did today.”

When the clock ran out, Eureka finished off back-to-back titles with a 47-7 blowout. Last year’s champs lost a ton of talent, so this year’s team didn’t kickoff 2017 as heavy favorites to repeat. But they became the unquestioned number one team in class B with a perfect season.

“Words can’t describe how good I feel right now,” said Pluid during the post-game celebration. “There is nothing more I’d want right now than to be on this field right now. It’s awesome.”

“Congratulations to our entire community,” said head coach Trevor Utter. “It’s been a tough year in our community, with fires, and we’ve lost like five really prominent community members. So our town needs something to celebrate. And this is a good chance to do it right here.”

Eureka will enter next season riding a 19-game winning streak. And with all the great seniors they’re losing once again, some will probably not give the Lions much of a chance to make it three in a row. But we’ve been there before. You’re probably better off not betting against the Lions.

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