After nine long months, high school football in Montana has returned.
The 2018 campaign kicked off this past weekend with some thrilling finishes. Billings Senior extended its win streak to 27 games in the final seconds against Kalispell Glacier, and Missoula Loyola and Bigfork got close wins at neutral sites against perennial contenders.
Week 1 also saw some eye-popping scores from around the state: Bridger scored 96 points and Richey-Lambert and Jordan combined for 154.
- Kalispell Glacier took a 26-21 lead over Billings Senior in the final minute, but Senior quarterback Matthew Plasterer threw an out pattern to junior receiver Oran Nash-Bergen. Once Nash-Bergen saw his defender slip as he caught the ball, he turned up the field and rumbled 20 yards to the end zone to put Senior ahead 27-26 with less than 30 seconds left.
- Kalispell Flathead running back Blake Counts caught a pair of screen passes for touchdowns against Butte High. The Braves were the only Class AA team to win on the road, getting past the Bulldogs 42-21.
- Billings Central looked strong in its opener against Miles City. The Rams used big plays to knock off the Cowboys, getting a 32-yard rushing touchdown by Jack Studer, a 56-yard touchdown catch by Chrishon Dixon and a 57-yard touchdown run by Studer. The victory was No. 199 for Billings Central head coach Jim Stanton.
- Belgrade looks like it could be returning to playoff form. The Panthers cruised past visiting Sidney, 31-7, thanks to a pair of touchdowns for senior Easton Page. Belgrade missed the playoffs last season after a semifinal run in 2016.
- Bigfork and Manhattan met at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula for a non-conference battle. Trailing 14-13, Bigfork’s Randy Stultz plunged into the end zone from inside the 5-yard line. Luke Taylor then returned an interception for a touchdown to give Bigfork the lead for good, 27-14.
- Colstrip is 2-0 after one week of play. The Colts got a forfeit win over Wolf Point before defeating Whitehall, 34-0, at Herb Klindt Field on the campus of Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Colstrip should once again be among the favorites in Class B. Whitehall quarterback Max Feight left the game with an apparent injury.
- Great Falls Central quarterback and future Montana Grizzly Noah Ambuehl had five total touchdowns in the Mustangs’ 46-0 win over Twin Bridges at Bob Green Field on the campus of Montana Tech in Butte. The Mustangs lost to Fairview in the quarterfinals of the playoffs last year, but a huge senior class should have Great Falls Central in the thick of things in November.
- Butte’s Naranche Stadium hosted an 8-Man doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. Defending state champion Drummond-Philipsburg made quick work of Alberton-Superior, 50-16, behind Colby Manley’s five first-half rushing touchdowns. Choteau’s Johnny Rappold threw four touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 34-28 victory in the nightcap over Ennis.
- 6-Man powers Wibaux and Geraldine-Highwood delivered a thrilling non-conference bout in Wibaux. The Longhorns just edged the Rivals, 40-38. Westby-Grenora head coach Troy Walters pegged Wibaux as one of the 6-Man favorites, but even with a loss, Geraldine-Highwood solidified its name on the short list of contenders.
- Richey-Lambert defeated Jordan in an absolute shootout, 103-51. Seth Prevost led the Fusion with 207 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, eight receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
- Westby-Grenora domninated Kaycee (Wyo.) in a matchup of state champions. Westby-Grenora won last year’s 6-Man state championship in Montana while Kaycee won the 6-Man title in Wyoming. The Thunder were never tested, winning 54-12. After losing record-breaking quarterback Jeremiah Paine, the Thunder seem to once again be a state championship contender behind sophomore quarterback Darian Holocek.