BIGFORK — Two of the best in the Western B are set to do battle Friday night in Bigfork.
The Vikings’ home opener comes against conference rival Florence. With both teams sitting at 2-0, this early-season clash has big implications in the conference-title race.
“Every game is big,” Bigfork head coach Todd Emslie said. “This game is going to be a tough one. Florence is coming in riding high. They have a good football team. Their line appears to be real salty. They’re going to come in and compete. They always do, they’re just traditionally that way.”
Bigfork opened the season with a non-conference win over Manhattan at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula before dominating conference opponent Anaconda last week. Florence has yet to give up a single point in its two victories over Jefferson and Salmon, Idaho.
The Vikings boast a roster with 12 seniors that “have played a lot of football,” according to Emslie. One of those seniors is Logan Gilliard. Gilliard plays center on the offensive line and middle linebacker on defense.
If the Vikings are to slow down Florence’s offense full of playmakers, they’ll need Gilliard and the defense at their best.
“They have a good quarterback and a good running back,” Emslie said. “Gilliard, he’s a super kid in that he could play whatever he wanted on our team, he’s that athletic. But we’ve got him playing center, and he’s our best lineman. He’s that kind of kid that knows we’re a better team with him playing there. On the defensive side, he’s our middle linebacker and is a tackling machine.”
This stretch of the schedule is a litmus test of sorts for the Vikings. After their clash with Florence, the Vikings will travel north to Eureka next weekend to face the two-time defending Class B state champion.
“It’s a matter of competing. We just need to compete in both of these games coming up,” Emslie said. “I have no doubt that our kids are going to do that. These two games are way important. Eureka has proven what they are. … Those kids have learned how to win and they know how to win, so that one will be a tough one on the road for us, too.”
Bigfork and Florence were both playoff teams out of the Western B last season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Bigfork.
“It would be a good game to be at to watch two teams that are somewhat similar going at it. This will tell a lot about where we’re at, and I’m sure Florence feels the same way,” Emslie said.