Billings Central and Lewistown are set for a rematch, this time for the State A title.
The Rams and Golden Eagles battled earlier this season with Lewistown winning 17-7 on its home field, earning it home field advantage on Saturday.
“They did a great job on us, no excuses. They got after us. We didn't have a lot of answers," Central head coach Jim Stanton said. "Maintain our blocking schemes. We have to really be able to come out and execute. They took a lot away from us. They're a good, solid team. Our execution needs to improve and we need to have confidence going in there."
It’s a tale of two different programs this weekend. Stanton is coaching in his 13th state championship game, 11th with Central, while Lewistown is led by second-year man Derek Lear and is playing in just its second championship game ever. The Eagles won it all in 2001.
“It is kind of fitting to have that vision and view. You want your program to be like them and have an opportunity to play them. And to host them in Lewistown is pretty special for me, for these kids, and, like I said, for this community," Lear said.
This game will likely be decided in the trenches, as both sides possess punishing running games. Both Lear and Stanton know the importance of imposing their physicality early.
“Their linebackers are as good a group as we faced all year, by a long ways. They're a physical team and they play downhill," Stanton said. "We pride ourselves on that, as well. I think it's going to be a physical contest. We've got some kids that are willing to get after it and have proven that week in and week out. We've just got to match it."
“Ultimately it just comes down to making the plays when they're there, making sure we're disciplined in our assignments and defensively just making sure we don't give up a big play," Lear said. "Trying to keep them in front of us, tackle them and have 11 guys around the football as much as we possibly can."
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon up in Lewistown.