GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls High and Great Falls CMR crosstown football game always brings high emotions. But in 2019, it will have direct playoff implications.
The Bison and Rustlers have identical records at 2-5, and 2-3 in conference. So while bragging rights are definitely on the line, there’s more to Friday’s clash at Memorial Stadium. The winner will take the fourth spot in the Eastern AA and host a first-round playoff game. The loser will take fifth and go on the road for the first round.
The record doesn’t show it, but Great Falls High has hung around on the scoreboard with some of the top teams in the state, including Billings West and Missoula Sentinel. To beat CMR on Friday, the Bison have been focusing on fundamentals.
"You have to be physical, you have to be fundamentally sound. You just have to play hard against them. Those are the things that are trademarks about C.M. Russell," head coach Mark Samson said. "You can’t make mistakes. You can’t make mistakes against anyone, but especially in crosstown, because you never know what will happen."
"You know there’s going to be a lot of emotions, obviously. It’s crosstown. It’s a big game," Bison junior wide receiver Levi Torgerson. "Whoever wins hosts a playoff spot, I think is how it works out. So obviously with CMR, we’re rivals, you know it’s going to be a big game."
Meanwhile, the Rustlers feel like they’ve missed some opportunities this season, especially in the second half of games. They talked about how important it will be to play a complete game and what it would mean to steal a win from their rivals.
“(Building momentum) is huge, it will show all of our hard work if we can play a complete game," CMR senior linebacker Wesley Tilleman said. "Second half is the big deal for us, we’ve been pretty good in the first half but the second half comes and we forget what we’re supposed to do.”
“Super important. If we win this game we get a home playoff game, which is huge for us," CMR senior right tackle Nick Hergesheimer said. "We want that home-field advantage and that team spirit from our fans.”
“It’s a big game, a lot of passion, you know? We want bragging rights for the year over Great Falls High, so it’s a lot more than just record on the line here,” Hergesheimer added.