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What I'll be watching: Class AA football returns in Week 3

Billings West
Posted at 9:44 AM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 13:14:43-04

Welcome to the party, Class AA.

Billings Senior and Bozeman kicked off the Class AA season on Thursday night, as the Broncs handed the defending champion Hawks a 34-13 loss at Daylis Stadium.

The rest of Class AA gets under way on Friday night, as teams will go straight into conference play after canceling non-conference games the first two weeks of the year.

Bozeman Gallatin will make its Montana high school football debut on Friday night at home, while I-15 rivals will meet in Helena for a battle on Friday night. Every single game matters with teams only playing a conference schedule.

Class AA isn't the only show in town this weekend, though, as the Eastern A also joins the rest of the state on the gridiron. We've seen the reigning champions in Class AA, Class B and 6-Man already go down. Miles City will look to join Fairview on the side of unbeaten returning champs.

Huntley Project has had a long wait for its first game of the season, but the Red Devils get the opportunity on Friday night. They don't have to travel far, either, but they'll open up with an Eastern B rival. Bigfork has been pretty impressive in its first two victories of the season, but the Vikings are welcoming in a Class A opponent in Week 3.

Westby-Grenora has made quite the splash at the 8-Man level. The Thunder are at home on Saturday afternoon as they look to continue their ascent toward the top of the 8-Man East. Thompson Falls blew out 2019 runner-up Alberton-Superior last weekend. Do the Bluehawks have another performance like that in them?

It's awful early in the season to be talking about conference championship games, but the driver's seat in the 6-Man South is up for grabs in Clyde Park on Friday night. There's clearly going to be a new conference champion in the 6-Man East, but who? Is Savage up to the task? The Warriors have a chance to make an early statement.

Buckle your seat belts. The first full week of high school football us upon us.

Class AA

  • Bozeman Gallatin will make its Class AA football debut on Friday night when the Raptors host Great Falls High. The Bison received votes in the preseason Treasure State Media Poll but didn't crack the top five. Gallatin could make quite the statement to Class AA that it won't be the little brother to Bozeman, but the Bison aren't going to roll over for the Raptors.
  • Butte finished 2019 with a loss to Bozeman in the Class AA state title game. The Bulldogs open up 2020 on the road at rival Helena High. Helena, ranked fourth in the TSMP, has a bunch of 2019 all-conference selections back and should be in contention for the Western AA title.

Class A

  • Three of the five defending state champions have suffered a loss already. Miles City is looking to avoid the same fate on Friday night when the Cowboys host Glendive. According to Class A football statistician Brian Reed, the Cowboys have beaten the Red Devils 23 consecutive times, which is tied for the third-longest head-to-head win streak in Class A all-time. Havre held a 30-game win streak over Browning from 1987-2016. Don't be surprised if Miles City is lighting up the scoreboard this season just like it did in 2019.

Class B

  • Huntley Project has yet to play a game this season, as the Red Devils canceled their non-conference schedule. Project jumps right into conference play on Friday night as it travels just down the road to face Shepherd. Huntley Project finished second in the Eastern B last year and, after Red Lodge's loss to Columbus, maybe the conference is a little more wide open than previously thought. Both teams can take a big step toward the playoffs with a win in conference play.
  • Bigfork won't be playing a conference game this weekend. The Vikings, who have been one of the most impressive teams in Class B to open the year, will play host to Class A Lewistown, which is replacing a Hardin cancellation on its schedule. Bigfork has a great football program, and the Vikings can prove that once again by knocking off a team one classification higher.

8-Man

  • Speaking of good football programs, Westby-Grenora consistently has produced strong football teams. Apparently, it doesn't matter what classification, either. The Thunder have trounced their first two opponents at the 8-Man level and are looking to carve through the 8-Man East. Week 3 brings Circle into Westby-Grenora. Circle was beaten by Scobey last week. Scobey lost to Westby-Grenora by six to open the season. Should Westby-Grenora beat Circle, it would be a strong bet the Thunder are unbeaten when they travel to defending champion Fairview on Oct. 2.
  • Thompson Falls smashed 2019 runner-up Alberton-Superior last weekend with a 42-0 shutout. The Bluehawks are looking to continue running roughshod over the 8-Man West, this time against Seeley-Swan. Seeley-Swan just missed out on the playoffs in 2019 and the Blackhawks will need to beat teams such as Thompson Falls to make a postseason run in 2020. Thompson Falls, though, looks like a serious threat to make a deep run in the playoffs.

6-Man

  • Is Sept. 11 too early to decide a conference championship? It very well could be, but there appears to be a clear-cut top three teams in the 6-Man South this year. Defending conference champ Shields Valley hosts Bridger on Friday night in what is likely a preview of the conference's top two seeds, though Broadview-Lavina could challenge for one of those. Shields Valley handed Bridger a beating in Bridger last year. Can the Scouts do the same this season? If not, Shields Valley could be well on its way to another unbeaten regular season.
  • Jordan and Wibaux had been powerhouses out of the 6-Man East the past couple seasons, but there's been a clear changing of the guard in 2020. Richey-Lambert blew out Jordan in Week 2 and Savage beat Wibaux 56-0. Savage isn't far removed from having its own string of successful years, and the Warriors could be on that track again. Savage will host Froid-Medicine Lake on Friday night with a chance to hand the Redhawks their first loss of the year. Froid-Medicine Lake should be one of the more improved teams in the conference in 2020, though.