Big games are on the slate across all classifications in Week 3 of the high school football season.
Some of the state’s top teams are set to square off for conference supremacy and playoff positioning. Class A powers Dillon and Columbia Falls clash, and possibly the top two 8-Man teams, Charlo and Drummond-Philipsburg, meet up Friday night.
- Billings West makes a long trip north to take on Kalispell Flathead. Even in a Week 2 loss on the road at Bozeman, the Bears proved they should be among the top teams in Class AA this season. Kalispell Flathead is 2-0 to start the year and has the opportunity for a statement win early on.
- It may be no surprise to see Missoula Sentinel at 2-0, but the same can’t be said for Great Falls High. The Bison have given up just three points in their first two games. The duo of Blake Thelen and Adam Longin makes the Great Falls High offense dangerous at home for the visiting Spartans.
- Class A’s defending champion was knocked off last weekend when Columbia Falls fell to Hamilton. The Wildcats face another stiff test this weekend, as they host the Dillon Beavers. Dillon beat Columbia Falls for the 2016 Class A title and has played in six of the past seven championship games. The Beavers also won last year’s regular-season meeting between the teams, 16-14.
- Who is the No. 2 team in the Eastern A? If Belgrade wants to claim that title, the Panthers have to knock off visiting Miles City. The Panthers were dominant in Week 1 against Sidney but had to squeak out a win in Week 2. This game should give clarity as to who will rule the East with Billings Central.
- Two Class B titans are meeting in Missoula Friday night for a non-conference bout. Fairfield’s explosive offense, led by Ryder Meyer and Dawson Allen, will take on Missoula Loyola. Loyola opened the season with an impressive victory over another Class B power, Huntley Project, and can knock off two of Class B’s best in a three-week span. Both Fairfield and Missoula Loyola lost in the semifinals of last year’s playoffs.
- The Western B appears to be extremely deep, featuring not only Missoula Loyola and defending champion Eureka, but also Florence and Bigfork, who will meet Friday night along Flathead Lake at Bigfork. Bigfork and Florence were the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, out of the West last season, but both lost in the first round of the playoffs. This early meeting will give the winner a leg up in the conference title race.
- Philipsburg will feature a possible state championship preview on Friday night. The defending state champion, Drummond-Philipsburg, will host conference rival Charlo in what profiles to be on of the week’s top games. Both teams are loaded with talent — the Titans featuring Jaxon Lee and Colby Manley, the Vikings boasting possibly the top player in the state in Landers Smith. This could be the first of multiple meetings between these two teams this season. As our Slim Kimmel noted, Drummond-Philipsburg coach Mike Cutler and Charlo coach Mike Krahn are quite familiar.
- Culbertson appears as if it is back as a contender in the 8-Man ranks. The Cowboys will have a chance to prove that statement when they take on East division rival Scobey. Scobey was the No. 4 seed out of the East last season, so this is an opportunity for Culbertson to supplant the Spartans in the conference.
- In the preseason Westby-Grenora head coach Troy Walters mentioned Big Sandy as a team that could challenge the Thunder’s state-title defense. The Pioneers have the chance to etch themselves in as the 6-Man favorites when the Thunder come to town Friday night. This is a telling stretch of the schedule for Big Sandy, as it takes on Geraldine-Highwood next week.
- Bainville can take a giant leap toward a 6-Man East conference title and the upper echelon of 6-Man football with a victory at Wibaux Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs have put up 58.5 points per game over the first two weeks, but finding a way to slow down the Longhorns’ offense, led by Tel Lunde, will be the biggest challenge.