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Warm up the bus: Sidney faces daunting first-round trip

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Oct 28, 2020

SIDNEY — Montana high school football is not for the faint of heart.

Imagine you’re the Sidney High School football team.

After a 1-3 start to the season, the Eagles reeled off three wins over Havre, Lewistown and Hardin to close the season and clinch the No. 4 seed out of the East in the Class A playoffs.

Plenty of reason to celebrate! But not a lot of time to do it. For their efforts, the Eagles earned a first-round trip to face the top-ranked and undefeated Hamilton Broncs. And if that task weren’t daunting enough, the team has to travel 588 miles, one way, to get there.

That’s a journey that Google Maps estimates will take 9 hours, 36 minutes by car. Bus travel can be considerably slower, and that’s before you factor in pit stops, practice time, unpredictable weather and whatever other obstacles a long Montana road trip can throw at you.

Sidney’s journey is an outlier compared to the rest of the road trips that high school teams are up against this week, but it’s certainly not unusual. Montana is a big state.

St. Cloud, Minnesota is actually closer to Sidney (584 miles) than Hamilton (588 miles).

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the Columbus Cougars, who own the shortest playoff road trip in the state, just 44 miles down the road at Red Lodge.

Check out the tables below for complete distances and travel times for Montana High School Association football playoff games as calculated by Google Maps.


Butte at Helena Capital76 mi1 hour, 32 mins
CMR at Bozeman186 mi3 hours, 10 mins
Skyview at GFH215 mi3 hours, 32 mins
Big Sky at Glacier117 mi2 hours, 17 mins

Average distance: 149 mi
Average travel time: 2 hours, 36 mins


Sidney at Hamilton588 mi9 hours, 36 mins
Frenchtown at Laurel345 mi5 hours, 12 mins
Columbia Falls at Billings Central431 mi6 hours, 55 mins
Miles City at Dillon400 mi6 hours, 0 mins

Average distance: 441 mi
Average travel time: 6 hours, 54 mins


Columbus at Red Lodge44 mi0 hours, 48 mins
Glasgow at Eureka464 mi7 hours, 45 mins
Colstrip at Manhattan283 mi4 hours, 12 mins
Bigfork at Malta355 mi6 hours, 1 min
Missoula Loyola at Fairfield146 mi2 hours, 25 mins
Whitehall at Shepherd219 mi3 hours, 14 mins
Conrad at Florence223 mi3 hours, 43 mins
Huntley at Townsend221 mi3 hours, 25 mins

Average distance: 244 mi
Average travel time: 3 hours, 54 mins


St. Ignatius at Fort Benton246 mi4 hours, 3 mins
MonDak at Joliet395 mi6 hours, 19 mins
Belt at Flint Creek154 mi2 hours, 40 mins
Ennis at Fairview475 mi7 hours, 19 mins
Ekalaka at Park City283 mi4 hours, 13 mins
Superior/Alberton at Shelby280 mi4 hours, 22 mins
Cascade at Scobey385 mi6 hours, 25 mins
Simms at Thompson Falls234 mi4 hours, 2 mins

Average distance: 307 mi
Average travel time: 4 hours, 54 mins


Harlowton/Ryegate at Froid/Medicine Lake350 mi5 hours, 35 mins
Bridger at Big Sandy299 mi4 hours, 52 mins
PDB at Shields Valley168 mi2 hours, 44 mins
Savage at White Sulphur Springs378 mi5 hours, 49 mins

Average distance: 299 mi
Average travel time: 4 hours, 45 mins