GREAT FALLS – A crosstown win is always nice, but Great Falls High’s 19-0 shutout over rival CMR on Friday had an extra benefit for the Bison.
Mark Samson and crew are playoff bound for the first time since 2008, entering the Class AA football playoffs as the No. 8 seed and earning a first-round matchup against undefeated Bozeman. It’s a milestone for the young team, and one that bodes well for the program’s future.
“Going to the playoffs, this is the fun part,” Samson said. “This is the reward with our goals still being we’re going to go as far as we possibly can.”
After failing to win more than two games in each of Samson’s first two seasons in charge, the Bison bounced back with a 5-5 record this season, including a 4-1 start to the year. Great Falls High’s win over the Rustlers snapped a four-game losing streak.
“They always say, you got to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run,” Samson said. “This is us walking, now we have to learn how to run.”
Now the Bison get a rematch with Bozeman, following a 52-26 defeat earlier this year.
“We were planning on a lot higher seed than a No. 8 seed, but we still are achieving our goal and we’re really looking forward to having our first chance in the playoffs in a really long time,” said junior linebacker Ben Held. “We’re going to do our best. And to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Hawks coach Levi Wesche played for Samson at MSU-Northern but is 3-0 against his old coach in their head-to-head matchups. Friday’s first-round playoff games kicks off at 7 p.m. at Van Winkle Stadium in Bozeman.