(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a Montana High School Association ruling of a "no contest," therefore Lewistown will not be awarded a win. It has also been updated to reflect a Flathead County revision to its spectator policy, allowing two visiting fans per athlete.)
LEWISTOWN -- Montana high school football coaches knew they would have to go with the flow this fall, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the original schedules.
Fergus High School's Vic Feller is the latest coach to make adjustments on the fly after his Lewistown squad learned its game at Hardin on Friday would be canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases within Hardin High School and on the Bulldogs football team. Following contact tracing, the Bulldogs were sent into 14-day quarantine, which ended Wednesday but forced them to miss their season opener against Lewistown. Hardin should be able to return to competition next week at Billings Central.
Feller and his squad still wanted to get on the field this weekend after the conference elected to cancel its first two weeks to the season. That led to an unusual Saturday contest between the Class A Eagles and perennial Class B power Bigfork. The two teams will kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Bigfork.
"When we lost the Hardin game, Paul Bartos, the athletic director here, got to looking for a game and found us something," Feller told MTN Sports on Thursday. "He said, 'Here’s an opportunity (against Bigfork), would you like to take it?' And I said, 'You bet.'"
"You can only hit each other so many days, and it’s time to play a game," Feller continued. "We’re thankful to Bigfork to give us the opportunity to go over there and play. I really think it’s going to be a great game. I look what they’ve done the first two weeks (57-20 win at Townsend, 59-7 win over Cut Bank), they're very talented, have a great back. They’ll want to run the ball and we’re going to have to stop the run a little bit. I think we’re up to the challenge, kids are excited just to play."
When the game was originally scheduled, visiting fans weren't allowed at Flathead County activities, but an updated policy sent to MTN Sports on Friday morning will allow each visiting athlete two spectators. While it's not the full Eagle support, Feller remains appreciative.
"We’re just happy to be getting to play. We did not want to go into the Miles City game (next weekend) without a game," said Feller.
"Our expectation is for us to play hard for four quarters," Feller continued. "We have a couple kids at quarterback (last year's starter Seth Norslein and Chance Fields) we want to take a look at, get some people some time. ... We get a chance to go look at some other kids that we think are pretty equal. It’s just nice to be playing in this time. It’s been a long time since we started (practice) Aug. 14."