As wildfires roar throughout the state, high school football teams are gearing up to battle the smoke in Week 2 action. Frenchtown started the week with a 43-12 win at Butte Central on Thursday.
Class AA doesn't kick off its season until next week, as is the case with a handful of Class A teams. We will, however, get to see a pair of Class A teams making their season debuts in the Eastern A. Polson will be at home this weekend after last weekend's shootout loss. How high can its record-breaking quarterback fly?
Fairfield is in action this weekend against a team it's become quite familiar with over the past few seasons. There's a new man leading the Eagles in 2020, so how will the perennial power look? A big early season matchup looms in Class B, as two playoff teams from 2019 with high expectations in 2020 meet on Friday night.
Drummond-Philipsburg will get its season going this weekend after last week's cancellation, as the 8-Man powerhouse instantly faces a conference contender. Defending champion Fairview eked out a win in Week 1 over Ekalaka, but the Warriors hit the road in Week 2. Is Fairview still the class of the 8-Man East?
It's a light 6-Man slate this weekend, but defending champion Jordan will get its first taste of action in 2020. The Mustangs are replacing a huge chunk of last year's championship roster. Hot Springs is expected to be strong in the 6-Man West and is hoping to kick off its season in grand fashion.
The football season is in full swing, folks. Sit back and enjoy.
- Polson sophomore quarterback Jarrett Wilson threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 48-28 loss to Columbia Falls. The Pirates host Whitefish, which lost to Libby last week, on Friday night. Just how high can Wilson lead the Pirates' offense? It's a pivotal matchup early in the season as neither team can afford to fall to 0-2.
- The familiar face of Les Meyer is no longer patrolling the Fairfield sidelines. The Eagles will need to find their way without Meyer, and they open up with Missoula Loyola on Friday at home. Loyola and Fairfield have met five times since 2016. The Rams won the initial meeting in the 2016 playoffs, but Fairfield has won the last four.
- Manhattan finished runner-up in 2019 and is on the short list of title contenders again in 2020. The Tigers open up their season at Florence on Friday night. The Falcons have high expectations this season after falling to Fairfield in the second round of the playoffs last year. Florence was phenomenal in Week 1 and could have the upper hand having played already. It's a tough way to start the year for Manhattan, but the Tigers can send a statement early.
- Drummond-Philipsburg gets to start its season this week after last week's game against Plains didn't reach kickoff before cancellation. The Titans are set to go on Friday night as they'll host St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius finished 2019 third in the 8-Man West, one spot ahead of Drummond-Philipsburg, but the Bulldogs graduated a decent chunk of their starters. It's a good barometer early on to see where both teams stand in 2020.
- Defending champion Fairview opened its season with a 32-24 victory at home over Ekalaka in Week 1. The Warriors won't be the juggernaut they were last season, but they'll still be a force in the 8-Man East. This week they'll travel to Culbertson, which has no returning all-conference picks. Is Culbertson going to take a jump this season with a less experienced crew, and are the Cowboys capable of hanging with Fairview?
- Jordan opens its season at Richey-Lambert on Friday night as the defending state champion. The Mustangs lost nearly every starter from last year's team, though, and will have new faces all over the field. I'm interested to see if Jordan is still competitive in the 6-Man East. Several other teams lost key players, too, but this has routinely been among the most competitive conferences in the state. Richey-Lambert beat up on Bainville last week and I wouldn't be surprised if they hand Jordan a defeat in Week 2.
- Hot Springs tore through the rest of the 6-Man West last season on its way to an unbeaten regular season, and the Savage Heat should be among the top teams in the state once again in 2020. Hot Springs kicks off its campaign against Valley Christian at home on Friday night. Valley Christian finished at the bottom of the 6-Man West last season, but hanging tough with Hot Springs could bode well for the rest of the season.