Drummond-Philipsburg is the two-time defending champion, and the Titans are back in the 8-Man football playoffs.
A three-peat will be difficult, though, as the Titans are just the fourth seed out of the West after a 5-3 conference season. But if there are good losses, Drummond-Philipsburg has three of them, losing to Alberton-Superior, Thompson Falls and St. Ignatius, who have just two losses combined between the three of them. The West will be represented by that fearsome foursome in the 8-Man playoffs, which begin as early as Friday.
Alberton-Superior is the No. 1 seed out of the West after rolling to a 9-0 record in the regular season. Fairview (East), Fort Benton (North) and West Yellowstone (South) are the other three No. 1 seeds, and all bring undefeated records into the postseason.
The first round pits the West against the South — except for one matchup where the South’s fourth seed is replaced by the North’s fifth seed because of the unbalanced conferences — and the North against the East: Choteau at Fairview, Twin Bridges at Thompson Falls, Culbertson at Fort Benton, St. Ignatius at Park City, Shelby at Alberton-Superior, Belt at Scobey, Drummond-Philipsburg at West Yellowstone, and Ekalaka at Great Falls Central.
No. 1 seeds: Fairview (East), West Yellowstone (South), Fort Benton (North) and Alberton-Superior (West).
Fairview has a star-studded backfield in Alex Schriver and Cody Asbeck, and West Yellowstone brings in a senior-laden roster led by quarterback Mac Hauck. Fort Benton has a wealth of talent, including Garett Diekhans and Jace Thompson. Alberton-Superior might have the state’s highest-scoring offense, and quarterback Bryan Mask has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including Trey Green, who does much of his damage on the ground.
Fairview has never won a high school state football championship. Might this be the year for the Warriors? The talented and experienced group has been nothing short of dominant this season, outscoring opponents 438-40 this season, including back-to-back shutouts to close out the regular season.
The Warriors won’t be without challengers. Alberton-Superior survived the ultra-competitive West without a loss, and Fort Benton has been mighty impressive in the North. There’s plenty of competitive depth across the board in the 8-Man playoffs.
Dark horse (No. 3 seed or lower): Belt.
The Huskies haven’t been mentioned among the state’s best this season, but that might need to change. Belt has only two losses this season — a 28-14 setback to Great Falls Central on Sept. 6 and a 34-30 loss to Centerville on Sept. 28 — and has played its best football the past three weeks, wins over Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Choteau and Shelby.
Best first-round matchup: St. Ignatius at Park City.
Both St. Ignatius and Park City are one-loss teams, the fewest combined losses in any game this weekend. St. Ignatius lost to Alberton-Superior back in Week 2 but has since won seven straight to clinch the No. 3 seed out of the West, while Park City is riding a five-game winning streak and enters the playoffs as the South’s second seed.