The leaves have turned, the air has become brisk and snow is falling to the ground. That can only mean one thing — playoff football is right around the corner.
With just a few weeks remaining in the season, Week 7 of the high school football season was make-or-break for several teams. Eureka and Jordan picked up wins that will likely vault them into the playoffs, while teams such as Kalispell Glacier and Twin Bridges won to keep playoff aspirations alive.
- Bozeman ran its unbeaten record to 7-0 by absolutely dominating Helena High, 42-22. Bozeman led 42-7 in the third quarter, leaving little doubt of the outcome. Bozeman owns victories over the teams ranked Nos. 2-5 in Class AA and can lock up home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win this weekend.
- Billings West improved to 6-1 after slipping past Helena Capital 14-10. DeMarcus Carr continued his impressive campaign with a pair of rushing touchdowns. The Golden Bears remain the No. 2 team in Class AA. Helena Capital, which fell to 3-4, is the No. 8 team in Class AA and will need to continue to win to make the playoffs. There are five teams right behind the Bruins at 2-5.
- Kalispell Glacier picked up a win when it needed it most. The Wolfpack knocked off Great Falls High 42-38. Glacier is now 2-5 on the season but sits just one game back of Helena Capital for the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. Great Falls High is tied with Missoula Sentinel for the No. 6 seed but will have opportunities to move up in the standings over the final weeks.
- Lewistown picked up its sixth consecutive win by blasting Belgrade, 43-21, in an Eastern A showdown. With the win, Lewistown still has hopes of an Eastern A conference title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. However, the Eagles are currently tied for second in the Eastern A with Laurel, which beat Lewistown in the season opener.
- Dillon handed Frenchtown its first loss of the season in an 18-14 slugfest. The win moves Dillon to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southwestern A. It also sets up a de facto conference championship game against Hamilton on Oct. 19. The Southwestern A champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs, but the No. 2 seed must play a Western A wild card team in the first round.
- Bigfork had a bit of a scare in Townsend, but the Vikings escaped with their perfect record still intact after the 21-14 victory. Townsend has been up and down this season, but the Bulldogs proved in this game that they’re capable of competing with any team in the state. With the West and South paired up in the first round of the Class B playoffs, the two teams could meet again in a few weeks.
- It hasn’t been a storybook season for Eureka, chasing its third consecutive Class B championship, but the Lions recovered Friday night from a pair of lopsided losses. With a 29-27 win over Florence, Eureka looks locked into the Western B’s No. 3 seed and a matchup with the Southern B’s No. 2 seed, currently Manhattan.
- The 8-Man South is taking only three teams to the playoffs, while the 8-Man North will take five. That made Park City at Twin Bridges an elimination game in the South. Twin Bridges kept its playoff hopes alive with a 54-20 win. That sets up another elimination game for the Falcons. Friday night Twin Bridges hosts Ennis with the winner being the South’s No. 3 seed and the loser seeing its season end.
- Alberton-Superior’s offense continues to put points on the board at a ridiculous clip. The Mountain Cats defeated Seeley-Swan 94-50 to improve to 5-2 — the two losses coming to defending champion Drummond-Philipsburg and perennial power Charlo. Alberton-Superior can clinch a trip to the playoffs this week with a win over Plains and a loss by St. Ignatius to Drummond-Philipsburg.
- The Jordan Mustangs upset defending champion Westby-Grenora, 38-32, to grab hold of the 6-Man East’s No. 3 seed. Jordan will be favored in its remaining games, so it is likely that Westby-Grenora will be the East’s No. 4 seed and must travel to face the top seed from the South, currently unbeaten Grass Range-Winnett.
- Geraldine-Highwood all but wrapped up the 6-Man North with a 78-43 beatdown of Sunburst. The Rivals could fall into a three-way tie with Big Sandy and Denton-Geyser-Stanford should they lose to the Bearcats. Geraldine-Highwood can clinch the North’s top seed with a win at home against DGS this weekend. It would also give the Rivals home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
- Big Sandy throttled Denton-Geyser-Stanford in a 6-Man North showdown, 66-31, to take control of the conference’s No. 2 seed. Should the Pioneers win out the rest of the season, they will be the North’s No. 2 seed for the playoffs. DGS still has an outside shot at the conference title if it can knock off Geraldine-Highwood this weekend. However, DGS has yet to play Sunburst, either, so the Bearcats still have a wide range of potential outcomes to finish the season in the 6-Man North.