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What I'll be watching: Big-time showdowns, jumbled standings and playoffs

Kenneth Eiden IV is 'missing piece of the puzzle' for the Bozeman Hawks
Posted at 6:24 PM, Oct 22, 2020

That wast fast.

Even in a pandemic-altered high school football season, the fall flew by. The 6-Man playoffs start on Friday with four first-round games, while the rest of the classifications wrap up their regular seasons this weekend.

In Class AA, the top two seeds from each conference receive first-round byes and and home quarterfinal games in the playoffs. Some of those spots are still up for grabs this weekend.

The Western A standings are still jumbled heading into the final week of the season, but one game will carry plenty of weight in determining the final seeds. There's also a big matchup in the Eastern A.

There are still plenty of playoff seeds to be determined on the Class B fields, and every conference has games that still matter this weekend. The same holds true in the 8-Man ranks, but there is one win-or-go-home game in the West.

We'll, of course, be watching all the 6-Man playoff games, but there are two that will get an especially close eye.

Those and more highlight what we'll be watching on another busy weekend.

Class AA

  • The game of the week might be in Billings on Friday when unbeaten Billings West hots 4-1 Bozeman High. The Golden Bears are in the driver's seat for the Eastern AA's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but the Hawks have been a different team since Kenneth Eiden IV returned from injury. They could mess up the standings with a win, which would leave three teams -- West, Bozeman and Billings Senior -- each with one loss in the conference.
  • Helena High will likely be the No. 2 seed in the Western AA, but the Bengals will be looking to bounce back after last week's blowout loss at Missoula Sentinel. There will be plenty of emotion this Friday, too, as Helena High meets crosstown rival Capital in the regular-season finale. For the Bruins, a win would be their third straight and fourth in their past five games, giving them plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.

Class A

  • Take a look at the Western A standings and try to figure out who will be the conference's fourth and final seed for the playoffs. Per a Twitter thread from Class A historian Brian A. Reed, Hamilton has clinched the No. 1 seed and Dillon has clinched the No. 2 seed. The Nos. 3 and 4 seeds will come from five teams: Frenchtown, Columbia Falls, Libby, Polson and Whitefish. At 6-2, Frenchtown has the clearest path. If the Broncs beat Libby on Friday, they'll be the No. 3 seed. The fourth seed will likely have to be determined using tiebreakers.
  • On the opposite side of the state, Miles City hosts Laurel in a rematch of last year's state championship game. The stakes obviously aren't as high this go-around, but a home playoff game is on the line. The winner will lock up the East's second seed for the playoffs (Billings Central has clinched the conference's No. 1 seed) and home game in the first round. The loser will be the East's No. 3 seed and have to travel to Dillon for a first-round game.

Class B

  • There are still two No. 1 seeds to be determined for the Class B playoffs. In the East, that spot will go to Shepherd, Huntley Project or Red Lodge, depending on the outcome of Friday's game between the Mustangs and Rams in Red Lodge (Project's game with Roundup has been canceled due to COVID-19). For Shepherd, it's simple: win and get the No. 1 seed. But if Red Lodge wins, point differential comes into play, which could vault either the Rams or Red Devils to the No. 1 seed.
  • The No. 1 seed in the North is still up for grabs, too. Fairfield, though, has the inside track after last week's win over Malta. The Eagles will clinch the No. 1 seed for the playoffs with a win or loss by less than three points. A Glasgow win by more than three points would move Malta to the top spot, assuming the Mustangs don't get upset by Cut Bank.

8-Man

  • Thanks to the 8-Man West adjusting its COVID-19 cancellation policies, things are pretty straightforward in determining its playoff teams. If Drummond-Philipsburg wins this weekend, the Titans are the No. 1 seed and Thompson Falls is the No. 2 seed. Alberton-Superior, which had its regular-season finale against Troy canceled, is the No. 3 seed. The fourth and final spot comes down to Charlo and St. Ignatius. Those teams meet this weekend in a win-and-in game. The winner will be the West's fourth playoff seed, while the loser will see its season end.
  • Things are pretty cut-and-dried in the 8-Man East, too, barring any unforeseen outcomes. With wins this weekend, Scobey locks in the No. 1 seed and Fairview the No. 2 seed. Westby-Grenora and Ekalaka meet to determine the third and fourth seeds. Both teams are already in the playoff bracket, so this weekend's game is just for seeding purposes: The winner gets the No. 3 seed, and the loser gets the No. 4 seed.

6-Man

  • The 6-Man playoffs kick off this weekend, and we've already seen a number of games get moved to Friday due to the incoming inclement weather -- three games will kick off at 1 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. (more details can be found here).
  • Two of the games still scheduled for Saturday -- Bridger at Hot Springs and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap at Savage -- should be among the best the classification has to offer in the first round. All four teams finished second in their respective conferences with just one league loss each. Weather could be a factor and limit some of the high-scoring offenses, so whichever teams are able to withstand the elements and potentially ride their running games and defenses could be in good shape.