BILLINGS – Laurel and Billings Central are just two nights from what figures to be a solid regular-season finale to decide this year’s Eastern A football champion.
Both teams are playing terrific ball this season. The Rams are 8-0 outscoring opponents 373-46. Half of those wins are shutouts.
“That’s just our mission: to get their offense off the field each and every time and give the ball to our offense,” said Central head coach Jim Stanton. “You know, we have a heck of a challenge ahead of us. We’re looking forward to a good, solid game.”
Laurel’s guys are 7-1, their only loss back in Week 2 at Miles City, 21-20. They’ve since reeled off half a dozen straight wins and now get a crack at the top spot.
“Our goal is always to make the Class A playoffs, and our other goal is to win the conference championship,” said Locomotives head coach Mike Ludwig. “It hasn’t happened around here since 1999. I kind of make the kids aware of that and – it’s hard – it’s hard to win the Eastern A.”
It also seems fitting that this year’s title will be decided by Yellowstone County’s oldest rivalry.
“When you’re on the field it’s a little different,” said Laurel quarterback Gage Hull. “It still feels like it’s a war between two teams. But off the field, I know their used to be riots and stuff, but it’s not the same energy today.”
“I expect us to do good,” Rams running back Jack Studer said. “We work really hard and we’ve been getting really good at pursuing. I think that’s why we haven’t let up many points, because we all end up where the ball goes.”
Both teams have already clinched opening-round playoff byes, which means a couple weeks of rest after Thursday’s game.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at the Laurel Sports Complex.