Teams from the East started the 8-Man playoffs with a bang last week, as all four teams earned double-digit wins in the first round. It’s the first time since 2014 that all four teams from a single conference won in the first round of the 8-Man playoffs.
The quarterfinal round is set for Saturday with three of those eastern Montana teams making road trips. The fourth, Fairview, hosts Arlee. Great Falls Central hosts Scobey, Shelby hosts Circle and Drummond-Philipsburg hosts Culbertson.
The MontanaSports.com 8-Man football playoffs preview named Drummond-Philipsburg the favorite last week, but an updated look at the 8-Man playoffs is below. For updated scores and pairings, please click here.
Scobey 74, Joliet 50
Great Falls Central 57, Alberton-Superior 14
Fairview 70, Chinook 6
Arlee 36, Centerville 32
Shelby 56, Darby 14
Circle 52, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap 12
Drummond-Philipsburg 50, Choteau 14
Culbertson 32, Ennis 14
Scobey (7-3) at Great Falls Central (8-1), 1 p.m.
Arlee (8-2) at Fairview (10-0), 1 p.m.
Circle (8-2) at Shelby (8-0), 1 p.m.
Culbertson (9-1) at Drummond-Philipsburg (10-0), 1 p.m.
Best quarterfinal game: Scobey at Great Falls Central
Until last week, Scobey, the East’s No. 4 seed, had quietly put together a solid season. The Spartans lost three games in the 8-Man East, but one of those was to undefeated Fairview, which is one of the best teams in the class when at full strength. Scobey’s other two losses were to Culbertson (by two points) and Circle (by 10). Those two teams dominated in the first round, as did the Spartans, who now must face a talented Great Falls Central team. The Mustangs have a ton of depth and team speed, which will only be magnified on the artificial turf at Memorial Stadium.
No. 4 seeds have won in the first round five times since 2002 with Belt being the most recent in 2014. The Huskies defeated Drummond-Philipsburg 36-26 that season as the North swept the West in the first round. Belt went on to lose Fairview in the quarterfinal round, but No. 4 seeds have historically had a surprising amount of success in that round. The previous three No. 4 seeds to win in the first round — Drummond in 2012, Ennis in 2011 and Sheridan in 2007 — all won their quarterfinal games. Sheridan actually advanced to the 8-Man state championship in 2007, where it lost to Drummond.
On its way to the 8-Man state championship last fall, Drummond-Philipsburg, the Flint Creek co-op, defeated the East’s No. 2 seed (Fairview) in the quarterfinal round, the East’s No. 3 seed (Circle) in the semifinal round, and a team playing its first season of 8-Man football (Forsyth) in the championship. This year, the Titans face Culbertson (the East’s No. 2 seed) in Saturday’s quarterfinal and with a win would play either Circle (the East’s No. 3 seed again) or Shelby (playing its first season of 8-Man football) in the semifinal round. Arlee and Great Falls Central, who are on the opposite side of the bracket, are potential championship opponents and will be moving up to Class B in all sports except football next fall.