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What I’ll be watching: Playoff lives at stake in Week 6

Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 27, 2018
Helena High’s Connor Murgel tosses the ball to a referee after intercepting a Helena Capital pass. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)

Week 6 of the high school football season is bringing a playoff atmosphere to all classifications.

The season is beginning to wind down and teams are fighting for their playoff lives. There aren’t as many high-profile games around the state this week, but there are several contests featuring teams battling for position within their conference.

Class AA

  • Undefeated and top-ranked Bozeman doesn’t seem to get any breaks in the schedule. The Hawks just slipped by Billings Senior last weekend and now host Kalispell Flathead. Flathead is currently 4-1 and sits in the top five of Class AA, but a win would dramatically increase the Braves’ chances of receiving a top-four seed and home playoff game in the first round.
  • A pair of 4-1 teams do battle Friday night in Helena as Great Falls High takes on Helena High. The playoff implications are obvious — a win nearly guarantees a trip to the playoffs, while a loss could leave the team scrambling to compete for one of the last spots available.

Class A

  • Belgrade suffered its first loss of the season last weekend to Laurel. The Panthers have yet another stiff test ahead as they host No. 1 Billings Central. Central has looked nearly unbeatable at times this year, while Belgrade has been in several close games already. A win for Belgrade and the Eastern A is wide open, but a loss would likely knock the Panthers out of contention for a top-two seed and first-round bye in the playoffs.
  • Frenchtown has been one of the surprises out of the Southwestern A this season, starting the year 5-0. The Broncs travel to Butte this weekend to take on the Butte Central Maroons. Butte Central lost its first conference game to Dillon last weekend by two scores. If Frenchtown is to compete with Hamilton and Dillon for the Southwestern A title, the Broncs will need a statement victory on the road.

Class B

  • Townsend has lost back-to-back games, severely jeopardizing its playoff chances. Whitehall lost its starting quarterback, Max Feight, to a torn ACL in the season’s opening game. However, this is an opportunity for both teams to keep their playoff hopes alive in the competitive Southern B.
  • Fairfield and Malta, the Northern B’s top two teams, meet in Malta Friday night. Fairfield is No. 2 in Class B and has been dominant all season long. Malta is 2-0 in conference play, but just 2-2 overall. Likely the top two teams out of the Northern B, this game will decide who controls the path to a conference championship.
  • Cut Bank and Glasgow, both 2-1 in Northern B play, meet Friday night in Glasgow. Playoff positioning is at stake in Glasgow, as the winner will be in the driver’s seat for the No. 3 seed and have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed.

8-Man

  • Unbeatens Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap and Joliet battle for 8-Man South supremacy Friday night in Joliet. Joliet handed Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap its only loss in the regular season last year, so revenge is certainly on the mind of the Titans. Both Joliet and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap are likely to be top-two seeds and host playoff games, but the Titans are looking for their second consecutive 8-Man South title.
  • The 8-Man North “B” sub-division boasts two unbeaten teams — Centerville and Shelby. Shelby is still a bit of an unknown in its first year of 8-Man football but has the opportunity for a statement win over Centerville. With the two sub-divisions in the 8-Man North, this could be the difference between playing at home or on the road in the opening round of the playoffs.
  • No one has been able to challenge defending champion Drummond-Philipsburg in the 8-Man West this season, but the No. 2 spot appears wide open. Alberton-Superior and Charlo meet this weekend in what will likely determine who hosts a playoff game and who hits the road on the opening weekend of the playoffs. Charlo has long been one of the top teams in the entire state, but Alberton-Superior brings in a high-octane offense capable of putting points on the board in a hurry.

6-Man

  • The 6-Man non-conference schedule doesn’t disappoint this weekend. On Saturday afternoon Denton-Geyser-Stanford (4-1) travels to White Sulphur Springs to take on the Hornets (4-1). DGS appears to be a playoff team out of the North, while White Sulphur Springs sits in a tie atop the 6-Man West standings. There are no playoff implications in this game, but it’s possible these two teams could see each other again down the line.
  • Shields Valley sits in the fifth spot in the 6-Man South, just outside of the playoffs. This week the Rebels host 2-3 Broadview-Lavina. Shields Valley was a playoff team in the South last year, but the Rebels will need to win to keep pace with the rest of the conference and stay in the hunt. A loss would essentially eliminate Shields Valley from postseason contention.