Playoff berths will be on the line in Week 8 on high school football fields across the state.
For some, this week represents an opportunity to clinch home-field advantage during the playoffs. But for others, this is a last-ditch effort to stay alive for the postseason. Each game becomes increasingly critical as the season winds down.
- After back-to-back unbeaten seasons capped by state titles, Billings Senior hasn’t been the same dominant force this season. However, the Broncs can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a win over Missoula Hellgate. Billings Senior finishes up the regular season with Billings West, so the Broncs could conceivably grab Class AA’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
- Helena High suffered a crushing defeat last week to Bozeman, but the Bengals can still clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a win over Billings Skyview. Skyview is Class AA’s only team yet to win a game this season. A loss for Helena High would almost certainly keep the Bengals from a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
- Kalispell Flathead can get back into the postseason with a win this weekend over Great Falls CMR. The Braves must continue to win to keep hope alive for a home game in the first round of the playoffs. CMR has yet to be eliminated from playoff contention and sits just one game back of eighth-place Helena Capital.
- The top spot in the Eastern A will be up for grabs this weekend. Billings Central has looked the part of a state championship contender all season and can knock Lewistown out of the conference title race on Friday night. Lewistown has not lost since its season opener against Laurel.
- Billings Central, Laurel and Lewistown, in some order, will be the top three seeds out of the Eastern A. Miles City and Belgrade can also punch tickets to the playoffs with wins this weekend. Belgrade, which has lost back-to-back games, can clinch with a win over Glendive, while Miles City gets in with a win over Sidney.
- Whitefish has been a surprise out of the Western A, holding a 5-2 record and a chance at the Northwestern A conference championship. However, defending state champion Columbia Falls stands between Whitefish and the conference title. Should Columbia Falls win, it clinches the Northwestern A title.
- Missoula Loyola and Bigfork meet for the Western B title on Friday night. The winner will be the Western B’s No. 1 seed and the loser the No. 2 seed. Eureka and Florence can clinch playoff berths out of the West this weekend, too. If Eureka wins against Deer Lodge, it will be the No. 3 seed. Florence clinches the West’s No. 4 seed with a win and a Deer Lodge loss to Eureka.
- Colstrip has already clinched a playoff berth out of the Eastern B. A pair of teams can join the Colts in the playoffs with wins this weekend. Roundup, which is still unbeaten, can clinch a berth with a win over Red Lodge, and Huntley Project can clinch a berth with a win over Shepherd.
- Big Timber has locked down the Southern B conference title and the No. 1 seed already, but much of the conference is still to be determined. Manhattan can clinch a playoff berth and move closer to the South’s No. 2 seed with a win over Three Forks.
- Fairfield can win the Northern B conference championship with a win over Conrad this weekend. Malta and Glasgow have also clinched playoff berths out of the North and Cut Bank can clinch the North’s No. 4 seed with a win over Wolf Point.
- Also in the 8-Man East, the No. 2 seed is up for grabs. Circle and Culbertson have each lost one game this season — to Fairview. Should Fairview beat Forsyth, the winner of this game will be the No. 2 seed and host a playoff game in the first round, while the loser will be the No. 3 seed and travel in the opening round of the playoffs.
- With the 8-Man South only taking three teams to the playoffs this season, the annual rivalry game between Ennis and Twin Bridges has added implications. The winner of this game grabs the South’s third and final playoff spot, while the loser sees its season end.
- Two unbeatens will meet for the 8-Man North conference championship this weekend. Great Falls Central visits Shelby with the winner clinching the North’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs and the loser grabbing the No. 2 seed. In Shelby’s first year of 8-Man football, it has a chance to assert itself as a state title contender.
- Two more games in the North will see playoff berths granted. Chinook visits Choteau and Chester-Joplin-Inverness travels to Centerville in the 8-Man North’s inter-division playoffs. The winner of each game grabs a playoff berth, while the losers will play next weekend for the North’s fifth and final playoff spot.
- Wibaux and Richey-Lambert will meet in a de facto 6-Man East conference title game this weekend. Top-ranked Wibaux is unbeaten to this point and Richey-Lambert has suffered just one defeat — a road game at second-ranked Geraldine-Highwood. Wibaux has clinched a playoff berth and the Fusion have already clinched a top-two seed in the playoffs. Jordan and Westby-Grenora can join Wibaux and Richey-Lambert in the playoffs with wins this weekend. The Mustangs will take on Savage and the Thunder play Froid-Medicine Lake.
- Unbeaten Roy-Winifred and one-loss Bridger have both clinched playoff berths out of the South. Roy-Winifred can clinch a top-two seed in the playoffs and set up a conference championship game against Grass Range-Winnett next weekend if it can win in Bridger.
- Geraldine-Highwood has a chance to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a win over Denton-Geyser-Stanford, the Rivals would grab the 6-Man North’s No. 1 seed. With the North set to host playoff games where its teams are the higher or like-seed, the Rivals could be hosting a state title game in November. DGS has aspirations of the No. 1 seed, too. The Bearcats can keep their conference title hopes alive with a win at Geraldine-Highwood. A victory would also clinch a playoff berth for the Bearcats. Big Sandy, which throttled DGS last weekend, can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Power-Dutton-Brady.
- The 6-Man West has beaten up on itself all season, but there is finally some clarity to the playoff picture. If West Yellowstone defeats Noxon this weekend, the Wolverines would clinch a top-three seed out of the West. White Sulphur Springs and Hot Springs can clinch playoff berths with wins over Gardiner and Valley Christian, respectively. Should all three teams win, Valley Christian and Noxon will play for the West’s final playoff spot next weekend.
Brief playoff scenarios for all classifications can be found here.