Week 1 of the high school football season in Montana featured fantastic non-conference matchups around the state that resulted in several great games. Conference play gets in full swing this week and, once again, should give fans a treat.
Class AA and Class A each boast 2017 state title rematches: Billings Senior takes on Helena, while Hamilton visits Columbia Falls.
2016 6-Man state champion Hot Springs is back in the 6-Man classification after being unable to field an 8-Man varsity team in 2017.
- Billings Senior will enter Helena Friday night on the heels of 27 consecutive victories. The Broncs and Bengals met in the 2017 Class AA state championship game, which Senior won 21-12. It was Senior’s closest game of the season. The Broncs won by just one point last weekend.
- Billings West and Bozeman were both big winners last week against Missoula Big Sky and Missoula Hellgate, respectively. Friday night, the Bears travel to Bozeman to take on the Hawks. An early-season advantage is at stake in the competitive AA.
- Columbia Falls knocked off Hamilton to claim the 2017 Class A state title last November. Friday night, Hamilton will have a chance at revenge as the Broncs look for a road win against the Wildcats. Columbia Falls and Hamilton are billed as two of Class A’s top teams.
- Belgrade picked up an impressive victory at home over Sidney last week, but the Panthers will need a road victory to improve to 2-0 in the Eastern A. Livingston hosts Belgrade Friday night as it, too, looks for a 2-0 start in conference play. Belgrade is looking to rebound from a year in which it missed the playoffs, while Livingston is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2012.
- Manhattan and Huntley Project both lost neutral-site games last week — the Tigers to Bigfork in Washington-Grizzly Stadium and the Red Devils to Missoula Loyola in Bobcat Stadium. Manhattan hits the road to visit the Red Devils Friday night. This will prove to be an early test for a pair of perennial Class B contenders.
- Colstrip, which, by way of forfeit, is the only 2-0 team in Class B, will host Glasgow for the Scotties’ season opener. Colstrip is expected to be among the contenders for the Class B state title and has a chance to be 3-0 through just two weeks.
- Among 8-Man coaches, Charlo’s Landers Smith is widely considered among the state’s best players. He was impressive in the Vikings’ dominant Week 1 victory over Plains. If conference foe Arlee wants to supplant the Vikings among the 8-Man West elite, it will have to find a way to slow the Charlo star down on his home turf.
- Defense was the calling card for Culbertson and Broadus last week, as both the Cowboys and Hawks had shutout victories. Culbertson has not made the playoffs since 2015 while Broadus has not since 2014. Both teams have the chance for a big 8-Man East victory and an early leg up in what should be a tight division race.
- Hot Springs looks comfortable again. The Savage Heat returned to 6-Man football last week with a 43-8 victory over Hanna (Alberta) on the road. They’re back in Montana Friday afternoon as they travel to White Sulphur Springs. The Hornets were knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals last season and return an experienced group from that squad. Hot Springs has an opportunity to put the rest of 6-Man on notice with a statement victory in Week 2.
- Richey-Lambert will clearly not have a problem putting points on the board this season. The Fusion hung 103 of them on Jordan last weekend behind Seth Prevost’s 11 total touchdowns. Richey-Lambert will look to keep the offense humming as it travels to Ekalaka Friday night. The Bulldogs defeated Froid-Medicine Lake in Week 1, 52-12.