Week 2 of the Montana high school football season has come and gone.
There were surprises, but we also saw defending champions hold their thrones in season-opening games. One of the presumed Class AA favorites fell at home on Friday night and all three Missoula schools picked up wins on the same night.
With conference play set to ramp up in Week 3, here’s are the games and storylines that caught my eye during a busy Week 2.
· Missoula Big Sky scored a touchdown with 1:09 to play to shock Bozeman in Bozeman on Friday night. Bozeman entered the season as one of the presumed favorites in Class AA, but this loss puts a damper on the Hawks’ early season resume. This is a big win for Missoula Big Sky, as the Eagles are looking to rebound from last season’s two-win campaign.
· Missoula Sentinel picked up an impressive 21-3 victory at home over Billings Senior on Friday. That makes it back-to-back victories over Eastern AA opponents for the Spartans as they head into conference play. Drummond-Philipsburg transfer Jaxon Lee has made an immediate impact for Missoula Sentinel, which looks to be an early competitor for the Western AA regular-season title.
· Billings Central is replacing nearly every starter from last season, but the Rams picked up right where they left off, defeating Lewistown 17-7. The Rams' defense was suffocating and could prove to be incredibly difficult to score on. Billings Central may have had some early jitters in its title defense, but the Rams look to again be among the Class A elite.
· Frenchtown didn’t suffer from a hangover after its thrilling overtime win over Dillon in Week 1. The Broncs pitched a shutout against Butte Central, winning 28-0 on Friday. Frenchtown already has an impressive win on its resume and looks capable of threatening Hamilton for Western A supremacy in 2019.
· Fairfield graduated multiple all-state players from 2018’s state championship team, but the Eagles seem to reload year after year. 2019 doesn’t seem to be an exception, as the Eagles opened up their season with a 38-7 win over Missoula Loyola – the same team Fairfield beat in last year’s championship game. New year, same story at Fairfield, as the Eagles are the favorites in Class B until knocked off their perch.
· Manhattan made a statement on Friday night with its win over visiting Florence, as the Tigers whacked the Falcons 54-14. Manhattan was pegged by coaches during the preseason as a team to watch in the Southern B, and the Tigers were certainly impressive in their season debut. Manhattan is coming off a trip to the quarterfinals and should be in the hunt for home-field advantage this year.
· Alberton-Superior has garnered early attention out of the 8-Man West this year, but Seeley-Swan is off to an impressive start, as well. The Blackhawks recently flew past Plains, 58-12, on Friday night. Seeley-Swan possesses tons of speed and will turn the game into a track meet, which is a battle the Blackhawks frequently win. The Blackhawks have already beaten one 2018 playoff team in Darby and will look for a second against Arlee this week.
· Great Falls Central picked up a solid early season victory over Belt on Friday, defeating the Huskies 28-14. The Mustangs are replacing the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, but they appear to have suffered little-to-no dropoff. Great Falls Central should again be in the hunt for the 8-Man North conference title.
· Roy-Winifred and Harlowton got into a shootout on Friday night that saw the Outlaws score a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Roy-Winifred is likely seen as the 6-Man South favorite after finishing second last season, but Harlowton added its name to the mix for the conference title. It doesn’t seem like much separates the teams at the top of the South early on, so this win will likely be crucial for playoff positioning down the road.
· Richey-Lambert was extremely impressive in Week 1, but the Fusion nearly fell on the road at White Sulphur Springs on Saturday, escaping with a seven-point win. We know Richey-Lambert --and the 6-Man East in particular -- is going to be good, so this tells me more about White Sulphur Springs. The Hornets could be a factor in the 6-Man West this season, and the West as a whole could be better than expected.