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What I'll be watching: Teams jockeying for conference positioning

Bridger High School football field
Posted at 9:08 AM, Sep 24, 2021

Week 5 of the high school football season is underway, as Missoula Hellgate and Bozeman kicked off the week with victories on Thursday night.

There is one monumental game in the Western AA this weekend, as Missoula Sentinel looks to keep its stranglehold on the conference. There aren't a lot of great matchups on paper across Class A this weekend, but I'm sure Polson's Jarrett Wilson will give us some absurd stat line.

As conference play ramps up across classifications, the Southern B, which will likely be one of the deepest conferences in the state, has a huge meeting on tap on Friday night. Eureka will look to continue to build its resume up this weekend and keep its conference title hopes alive out in the Western B.

The 8-Man East 'A' sub-conference has two teams yet to lose a conference game, but that will change this weekend when Fairview and Westby-Grenora meet up. Everyone in that conference, though, could be looking up at Culbertson this season after the Cowboys knocked off Scobey last week.

There will be a battle of unbeatens on the Western side of the state when Thompson Falls visits Seeley-Swan. The Bluehawks and Blackhawks are two of four unbeaten teams remaining in the 8-Man West.

A pair of 2020 playoff teams out of the 6-Man South will be battling for conference supremacy on Friday night. Is Bridger still an upper-echelon team in the 6-Man South, or has a youthful team come in to take that spot? If Hot Springs is the state title contender many think it is, the Savage Heat should be able to take care of business against their first conference opponent of the season this weekend.

We're just over a month away from postseason football. Each game will matter that much more down the stretch of the season.

Class AA

  • Missoula Sentinel has once again looked like kings of the Western AA early on in the 2021 season. The Spartans are a perfect 3-0 this season, but they'll get their toughest test of their conference slate to date on Friday night when they visit Helena. The Bengals are coming off a blowout win over Hellgate after losing to Butte but have all the makings of a team that can contend for a conference title. A second loss in Western AA play, though, could give Helena an uphill climb to make the postseason.

Class A

  • There don't appear to be many good games in Class A this weekend, at least on paper. Polson quarterback Jarrett Wilson will have a shot to put up another gaudy stat line on Friday night when the Pirates visit Libby, which is looking to vault right back into the Western A title race. Polson has raced out to a 4-0 record while the Loggers are 2-2, but a Libby victory on Friday would leave just two teams with unblemished records in conference play. Can Wilson continue to dominate Class A competition, or can Libby slow down the Polson gunslinger and his high-flying offense?

Class B

  • Columbus came into this season with high expectations after making the quarterfinals in 2020. The Cougars haven't disappointed so far, as they're the only team in the Southern B without a loss. Conference play kicks off this weekend for Columbus as it faces Jefferson, a team with conference title hopes this season, too. Jefferson's only loss this season came last week against Bigfork - a 20-19 thriller. The Panthers have the athletes to compete with those from Columbus, as this should be one of the weekend's best games. The winner will have the inside track to a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
  • Four teams in the Western B have combined to start the season 12-2, with 3-1 Missoula Loyola and 3-1 Eureka being two of those. Either the Rams or the Lions will have their conference title hopes dashed substantially this weekend when the two meet up. Both Eureka and Loyola are trying to get back to the form of recent years when the Lions won a State B title in 2019 and the Rams finished runner-up in 2018. Winning this game could eventually mean the difference between traveling in the opening round of the playoffs or playing at home.


  • A pair of perennial 8-Man East powers are set to square off this weekend with conference supremacy on the line. Fairview and Westby-Grenora are 2-0 in 8-Man East play so far this season, setting the Warriors and Thunder up for a massive regular season game that will likely shape the standings for the rest of the season. Fairview and Westby-Grenora have been the dominant teams in the 'A' sub-conference so far. This weekend's winner will have the inside track to a home playoff game and a potential conference title.


  • Bridger has been knocking on the door of a 6-Man South regular season crown for the past couple seasons but haven't quite been able to get over the hump. The Scouts are loaded up for a run this season, but they face a Broadview-Lavina team that's steadily improved over the years and is also ready to challenge for a conference title. Both the Pirates and Scouts are unbeaten this season, though they've gotten there in different ways. Broadview-Lavina has blown out its four opponents winning by at least 36 in each game. Bridger has had a pair of thrillers with Meteetsee, Wyo., and Richey-Lambert before decimating its last two opponents. Someone will take a big blow to its conference title hopes on Friday night.
  • Hot Springs continues to be a force at the 6-Man level. The Savage Heat appear to be one of the best teams in the state again this season, but they ramp up conference play this weekend, which can be an entirely different animal. Hot Springs will play Valley Christian, which has had a recent up-and-down history. If Hot Springs is the elite team we think they are, the Savage Heat will take care of business this weekend.