Week 6 of the high school football season brought slightly more clarification to the playoff picture and provided separation in the conference standings.
For some teams, this week meant the difference between hosting a playoff game or having to travel on the road in the first round. Helena High, Frenchtown and Charlo were among the teams that picked up big wins to hold steady in the standings.
With the favorites winning the majority of games over the weekend, there was little movement in the MontanaSports.com polls.
- Helena High trailed Great Falls High early, but the Bengals rallied to defeat the Bison 47-21. Grady Koenig racked up more than 200 yards and five touchdowns on the ground for Helena High in the victory. The Bengals are in the driver’s seat to host a playoff game as they sit at 5-1 and in a tie for second with Billings West in Class AA. Great Falls High is in a three-way tie for fourth place with Billings Senior and Kalispell Flathead, meaning the Bison will need to find some separation down the stretch to avoid traveling in the first round of the playoffs.
- After going 57 consecutive games without a victory, Missoula Hellgate has won back-to-back games after beating Billings Skyview 41-27. The Knights are in a three-way tie for ninth place in Class AA, but they sit just one game back of Helena Capital and Missoula Sentinel for the final playoff spot. Hellgate can thrust itself into the playoff picture with a win Friday night against Missoula Sentinel.
- It wasn’t pretty, but No. 4 Frenchtown defeated Butte Central 14-0 to keep its perfect record intact. In a game that had 10 combined turnovers, the Broncs got a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown from sophomore Jace Klucewich to escape Butte with a win. The win keeps Frenchtown (6-0 overall, 2-0 conference) tied atop the Southwestern A with No. 2 Hamilton (6-0, 2-0) and No. 5 Dillon (4-1, 2-0). The Broncs and Beavers will square off Friday night in a battle for a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
- No. 1 Billings Central continues to decimate its opponents. The Rams blasted Belgrade 52-14 to improve to a perfect 6-0. Central has outscored its opponents 275-28 through six games. While Central appears to be the top team in the Eastern A, the Rams still have games with 5-1 Lewistown and 5-1 Laurel that will determine the conference’s playoff seeding.
- Glasgow knocked off Cut Bank 20-8 to move to 3-1 in conference play and in possession of second place in the Northern B. With the win, the Scotties have their playoff destiny in their hands. If Glasgow runs the table, it will host a playoff game. However, a meeting with third-place Malta looms at the end of the season.
- Florence kept its hat in the ring as a playoff team out of the Western B by narrowly defeating Deer Lodge, 26-20. The Wardens led Florence 12-0, but Florence scored 26 unanswered to take control. Florence now sits third in the Western B, while Deer Lodge fell to fifth with the loss. Florence has an opportunity to move up the Western B with games against second-place Missoula Loyola and fourth-place Eureka remaining.
- From top to bottom, the Southern B appears to be one of the most competitive conferences in Class B. While Big Timber stands alone at the top, five teams are battling for the remaining three playoff spots. Three Forks picked up a big win over Columbus to move into the fourth spot currently. However, the Wolves will need to win against either Big Timber or Manhattan in the final two weeks to guarantee themselves a playoff spot.
- Townsend, too, picked up a big win in the Southern B, throttling Whitehall 40-8 and pushing Whitehall’s playoff hopes to the brink. The Bulldogs have lost to both Manhattan and Big Timber, so they appear to be locked in to the conference’s No. 3 seed.
- No. 4 Joliet and Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap, the top two teams in the 8-Man South, squared off last weekend with Joliet pulling out a 52-40 win over the Titans. Joliet takes control of the 8-Man South and has the inside track to be the conference’s No. 1 seed and host a playoff game. Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap should be the South’s No. 2 seed as the Titans have already beat third-place Ennis and fourth-place Park City.
- Ennis and Park City did battle for the 8-Man South’s No. 3 seed, and the Mustangs were dominant against the Panthers in the 34-7 win. Ennis great improved its playoff chances with the win, while Park City now has work to do.
- Fairview certainly looks to fit the mold of a state title contender. The Warriors blasted the 8-Man East’s second-place team, Culbertson, 56-14. Fairview has all but wrapped up the 8-Man East and a home playoff game. With the loss, Culbertson fall into a tie with Circle for second place. The Cowboys and Wildcats meet in two weeks to determine the East’s No. 2 seed.
- Circle improved to 5-1 with its 60-50 shootout win over Scobey. With the win, Circle still has a shot at the conference’s No. 2 seed and a home playoff game should it beat Culbertson. Scobey falls into a three-way tie with Broadus and Forsyth for the conference’s No. 4 seed. Scobey travels to Forsyth this weekend and ends the season with Broadus, leaving the Spartans’ playoff destiny in their own hands.
- Shelby kept its perfect record intact over previously unbeaten Centerville, defeating the Miners 50-0. Shelby, which moved up to fifth in the MontanaSports.com poll, leads the 8-Man North “B” sub-division and is setting up a showdown with unbeaten No. 3 Great Falls Central to decide the 8-Man North’s No. 1 seed for the state playoffs. Centerville’s playoff hopes are still alive. If the Miners beat Cascade, they will be battling for playoff seeding against the “A” sub-division.
- Points were being put up at an astounding pace in Charlo’s victory over Alberton-Superior. The Vikings grabbed hold of the 8-Man West’s No. 2 seed with a 66-58 victory over the Mountain Cats. Charlo seems destined for a home playoff game, while Alberton-Superior will find itself fighting for a playoff spot in the final weeks.
- Denton-Geyser-Stanford has reeled off five consecutive wins after losing its season opener to No. 4 Grass Range-Winnett. The Bearcats’ victory Saturday over White Sulphur Springs is their most impressive to date. The Hornets were a semifinal team last year that brought a lot of experience back, so the win for the Bearcats is telling of their improvement from last season. DGS still has a shot at the 6-Man North conference title, but the top teams in the conference remain on the schedule — Big Sandy, Sunburst and Geraldine-Highwood. DGS looks like a playoff team, but positioning will be determined in the coming weeks.
- Roy-Winifred pushed its record to a perfect 6-0 with a 62-18 drubbing of Fromberg. The Outlaws still have the toughest stretch of their schedule remaining, as they must play Bridger and unbeaten Grass Range-Winnett to end the season. Roy-Winifred could very well claim the 6-Man South conference title, or they could fall back to the No. 3 seed and have to hit the road in the playoffs.
- Noxon stayed alive in the hyper-competitive 6-Man West division with a 73-60 win over Gardiner. The Red Devils have games remaining with West Yellowstone and Valley Christian, both of which are ahead of Noxon in the standings. A loss down the stretch likely eliminates Noxon from playoff contention.