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What I'll be watching: Playoff berths on the line in Week 7

Big Sandy football
Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 08, 2020

There are just three weeks left in Montana’s high school football regular season, with Class A and 6-Man only having two weeks remaining.

At this point in the year, several teams are facing do-or-die scenarios regarding a postseason berth. A loss in mid-October can be crushing to a program’s playoff hope, or a win could propel them on a Cinderella-esque run.

The Western AA will lose at least one of its three unbeaten teams this weekend. A loss likely means hitting the road in the opening round of the playoffs. Billings West can move one step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but it’s the other two Billings schools that will be jockeying for positioning in Week 7.

Hamilton can continue to make life tough on teams in the Western A. The Broncs are not only looking to clinch a conference title but also keep a conference foe from the playoffs in the process. Miles City and Billings Central are likely looking ahead to Week 8’s matchup, but the two sides are dealing with potential trap games this weekend.

Bigfork continues to pick up games against Class A competition. The Vikings are taking advantage of schedule changes once again to test themselves against those a classification above. There are three unbeaten teams in the Northern B so far, but at least one will fall on Friday night when a pair of rivals meet up with all sorts of postseason implications.

The 8-Man South will have just one team standing atop the conference by weekend’s end. St. Ignatius made the playoffs in 2019 and can greatly improve its chances for another berth this season with a win in Week 7, but it’s going to have to come against a desperate team fighting for its playoff life.

The 6-Man West was previously scheduled to have its top two teams play last week, but instead Hot Springs and White Sulphur Springs will decide the conference’s regular-season champion on Saturday afternoon. Big Sandy has been atop the Treasure State Media Poll for a good portion of the year. The Pioneers can lock up the 6-Man North at home on Friday night.

As the season’s end looms, here’s what I’ll have my eye on during another busy week on Montana’s high school football fields.

Class AA

  • There are three unbeaten teams in the Western AA and two of those will meet on Friday night when Kalispell Glacier visits Helena High. With as dominant as Missoula Sentinel has looked this season, the loser of this game will more than likely be hitting the road in the opening round of the playoffs and heading east. A win also means avoiding a potential date with Sentinel in the postseason.
  • Billings West is in control of the Eastern AA after beating Billings Senior last weekend and can move one step closer to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win in Week 7. It's the other two Billings schools, Senior and Skyview, that are battling for playoff positioning this weekend. The Falcons are on a two-game winning streak and can shake up the standings with an upset victory.

Class A

  • Hamilton controls its own destiny in the Western A and can lock up the conference title with a win over Whitefish this weekend. The Bulldogs, though, are among a group of teams at 4-2 in conference play and in a fight for the last playoff spot in the conference. A loss for Whitefish could prove devastating to its postseason chances, while a win could be enough to get the Bulldogs into the playoffs. It's all on the line in Hamilton on Friday.
  • Miles City and Billings Central are both unbeaten and atop the Eastern A. The two sides will decide the conference champion in Week 8, but Week 7 offers a trap game of sorts for both sides. Central will visit Lewistown and Miles City will host Sidney. Should both escaped unscathed, the final week of Class A's regular season will feature two undefeated teams battling for a conference title.

Class B

  • For the second time this season, Bigfork will be playing a Class A program. The Vikings lost in overtime earlier this year to Lewistown and will now play Polson after the Pirates' schedule opened up due to Stevensville canceling. It won't do anything for Bigfork in the standings, but playing up in classification can only be beneficial for the Vikings as they prepare for the postseason.
  • Glasgow and Malta have been among the most impressive Class B teams this season, as both have racked up unbeaten records leading up to Friday night's showdown in Malta. Fairfield is also unbeaten in the conference, so neither side is guaranteed a home game in the opening round of the playoffs. Friday's winner, though, will still have a shot at the Northern B regular-season title.

8-Man

  • Joliet's revenge tour carries on this weekend when the J-Hawks visit Park City. The 8-Man South regular-season conference title is on the line in Park City Friday night, as the Panthers and J-Hawks are still unbeaten in conference play and have wrapped up home field for the opening round of the postseason. Joliet has beaten the brakes off nearly every team it has played so far this season. Don't be surprised if Joliet hands Park City a similar beating.
  • St. Ignatius broke through last season to make the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, and now the Bulldogs are focused on making it consecutive trips to the postseason. St. Ignatius currently sits fifth in the conference as Alberton-Superior holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, but there's plenty of opportunity on the schedule ahead for the Bulldogs. It starts Friday night at Plains, as the Horsemen are in need of a victory to keep their postseason hopes alive.

6-Man

  • Once again it's the familiar faces battling for 6-Man West supremacy. Both Hot Springs and White Sulphur Springs have unblemished records so far, but that will change on Saturday when the Savage Heat visit the Hornets to decide the 6-Man West conference champion. Hot Springs has the added obstacle of playing Noxon on Thursday night and playing two games within a 48-hour span. Both teams will be in the postseason, but who will bring home the conference title?
  • Big Sandy has some unfinished business after coming up short in 2019. The Pioneers have certainly played like it in 2020, too, as they've been dominant in their unbeaten start. Next up for Big Sandy is Power-Dutton-Brady, which is also undefeated. The 6-Man North title is up for grabs, but I wouldn't dare bet against Big Sandy at this point.