We're nearing the halfway point of the 2019 Montana high school football season after another busy weekend in Week 3.
As conference play got started around the state, several teams made early statements with impressive victories. Butte looks like a problem for the rest of the Western AA, and Miles City could be the challenger to Billings Central for the Eastern A.
In the 8-Man ranks, Alberton-Superior continues its ascent into the upper echelon of the classification. Ekalaka is also throwing its name in the ring of contenders out of the 8-Man East after an impressive start to the campaign.
Big Sandy, Richey-Lambert and Hot Springs all picked up wins over 2018 playoff teams in Week 3, solidifying their statuses as contenders for the 6-Man crown.
- Butte picked up a 35-27 win over visiting Helena High on Friday evening to grab a conference victory over the Bengals. Butte, the No. 2-ranked team in the Treasure State Media Poll conducted by Anthony Nachreiner out of Kalispell, has been impressive in its three victories so far this season. The Bulldogs have plenty of work to do, though, as the Western AA looks deep this season.
- Helena Capital, which jumped to No. 3 in the Treasure State Media Poll, lit up the scoreboard once again in a 48-33 win over Kalispell Glacier. The Bruins have scored more than 30 points in all three games this season and look like a contender for the Western AA regular-season title.
- Miles City grabbed a huge win over Laurel, 21-16, last Friday night in an Eastern A showdown. With the win, Miles City appears to be the top challenger to Billings Central's stranglehold on the conference. The Cowboys also jumped to No. 4 in the Treasure State Media Poll with the victory over Laurel.
- Libby has had a dominant start to the season, and Friday's 55-6 thrashing of Ronan is symbolic of that. The Loggers are scoring just north of 40 points per game while giving up just 6. Libby could conceivably be 6-0 heading into its final three games against Dillon, Hamilton and Frenchtown, the perceived top three in the Western A. The Loggers have the opportunity for a home playoff game ahead of them.
- In what appears to be a highly competitive Eastern B, Huntley Project picked up a thrilling 18-12 win over rival Shepherd in double overtime on Friday. Huntley Project is looking to get back in contention for the Eastern B regular-season title, and a win over the Mustangs gets the Red Devils off on the right foot.
- Eureka looks to again have a good football team, as the Lions are off to a 3-0 start. Eureka has blown all three games wide open, outscoring opponents 127-20. Eureka has vaulted into the No. 2 spot of the Treasure State Media Poll, but plenty of tests are ahead for the Lions, as they still travel to Florence and host Missoula Loyola.
- Alberton-Superior continues to light up the scoreboard this year, as the Mountain Cats topped Thompson Falls 56-38 to begin the year 3-0 and hand the Bluehawks their first loss in 8-Man football. The Mountain Cats have scored at least 50 points in all three games this season -- they did in seven of nine last season -- and look to be the early favorite for the 8-Man West title.
- Ekalaka has burst onto the scene as a team to watch in the 8-Man East. The Bulldogs dismantled Culbertson on Friday night to open the season 3-0. Ekalaka still has a pair of challenging games ahead, but the Bulldogs are primed to make the 8-Man playoffs for the first time since 2009, where Ekalaka lost at home in the first round to Twin Bridges.
- West Yellowstone made the quarterfinals of the 6-Man playoffs in 2018, but the Wolverines moved up to 8-Man this fall. The change doesn't seem to have affected West Yellowstone, as it has started the year with three wins by more than 24 points. The Wolverines are a team to keep an eye on throughout the season, as they could make noise in the 8-Man South.
- Big Sandy proved its status as a 6-Man title contender with a 60-14 beatdown on the road at Westby-Grenora. The 6-Man East has been touted as the strongest conference throughout the past two years, but Big Sandy has two convincing victories over 6-Man East teams this season. The Pioneers are undoubtedly the favorites out of the 6-Man North and boast two of the best wins in the classification.
- The 6-Man East would flex its muscles, though, as Richey-Lambert blew out Roy-Winifred, 70-34. Richey-Lambert now owns victories over three 2018 playoff teams after wins over Geraldine-Highwood and White Sulphur Springs. The toughest tests still lie ahead for the Fusion, as conference play will ramp up in the coming weeks.
- Hot Springs again looks like the class of the 6-Man West, and the Savage Heat picked up a non-conference win over Shields Valley, a 2018 playoff participant. The 25-13 result isn't pretty, but the victory could prove impressive later in the season, as Shields Valley should do well in the 6-Man South. Defense is often hard to find in 6-Man games, but Hot Springs has given up just 31 points in three games.