HELENA -- All across the state of Montana, high school football is now headed into its swan song, the playoffs. No Class AA team has to travel 667 miles to a playoff game, like the Baker Spartans will when they face the Eureka Lions on Saturday. In fact, two teams in Class AA will only have to travel about 90 miles to their playoff games and both of them will be played in Helena.
When the dust settled on the Western AA's season, both Helena High and Helena Capital were in position to host their first-round game, but given both teams play at Vigilante Stadium on the grounds of Helena Middle School, it created a scheduling issue. Instead of moving one game from its typical Friday night slot to Saturday, like Missoula Hellgate and Billings Senior did to avoid a scheduling conflict with Kalispell Flathead and Billings West, both games will be played in Helena on Friday night, just a few hours apart.
The Helena High Bengals will host the Great Falls CMR Rustlers in the first half of Friday night's double feature at 4 p.m., and according to the National Weather Service, the temperature at kickoff will hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When the Helena Capital Bruins play host to the Belgrade Panthers at 7:30 p.m., that mark falls to below freezing, at approximately 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bengals head coach Scott Evans noted that Friday's matchup won't be the first time the two teams have squared off at 4 p.m., and thinks that kicking off earlier could play to their favor.
"I think there's an advantage for it, we've got sunshine at least. You're going to have a warmer day at that time," said Evans, as his team practiced behind him on a snow-embedded field. "I don't mind the time. The last time we played CMR -- one time at 4 o'clock in the afternoon down at their field, when their football field wasn't done. So it's kind of a rematch from a couple of years ago when we played on their JV field."
To view the scores and pairings from the Class AA football playoffs, please click here.