High School SportsHigh School Football

Actions

Class B football playoffs: Highly anticipated matchups highlight quarterfinal weekend

Posted at 11:02 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 01:07:53-04
The Big Timber football team poses for a picture during their 46-17 win over Townsend. (ALEC BOFINGER/MTN Sports)

The Class B football playoffs started last week with eight first-round matchups. The home teams won seven of those games, with Huntley Project winning at Malta the lone exception. The Red Devils, the East’s No. 3 seed, will hit the road again this week, traveling to West No. 1 Missoula Loyola. The Rams defeated the Red Devils 33-25 in the season opener.

Big Timber hosts Colstrip this weekend in another rematch from the regular season. The Colts topped the Herders 21-20 back on Oct. 12 in non-conference action. Fairfield hosts Manhattan and Roundup hosts Bigfork in the other two Class B quarterfinal games.

The MontanaSports.com Class B football playoffs preview named Fairfield the favorite last week, but an updated look at the Class B playoffs is below. Please click here for updated scores and pairings throughout the postseason.

First-round results

Big Timber 30, Florence 0
Colstrip 27, Glasgow 16
Missoula Loyola 54, Three Forks 14
Huntley Project 30, Malta 6
Roundup 60, Cut Bank 14
Bigfork 47, Townsend 13
Fairfield 40, Red Lodge 0
Manhattan 33, Eureka 6

Quarterfinal matchups

Colstrip (9-1) at Big Timber (8-1), 1 p.m.
Huntley Project (6-3) at Missoula Loyola (9-1), 1 p.m.
Bigfork (8-1) at Roundup (9-0), 1 p.m.
Manhattan (6-3) at Fairfield (9-0), 1 p.m.

Best quarterfinal game: Bigfork at Roundup

Roundup’s storybook season continued last week with a dominant win over Cut Bank. The Panthers now welcome in one of the best teams in Class B in Bigfork. The one-loss Vikings bring in a stout defense — they’ve given up 15 points or fewer in all eight of their wins — and a high-scoring offense built around the rushing of Randy Stultz, who had 145 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries in Bigfork’s 47-13 win over Townsend in the first round. Roundup, of course, has Brody Grebe, one of the most electrifying players in all of Class B. Grebe ran for six touchdowns and passed for another in the Panthers’ 60-14 win over Cut Bank last week, marking Roundup’s first playoff win this century.

History lesson

Colstrip and Manhattan are trying to buck recent trends this week. Both the Colts and Tigers have now advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class B playoffs in four consecutive seasons. During that time, though, neither team has advanced to the semifinal round.

Fairfield’s dominance — 15 consecutive playoff berths, three straight trips to the semifinals — has been well-chronicled, but Missoula Loyola and Bigfork have been nearly as impressive. The Rams last missed the Class B playoffs in 2005 and won back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013. The Vikings last missed the playoffs in 2009, their first year in Class B. Bigfork won the state title in 2010, but this is the first season since 2015 the Vikings advanced past the first round.

Foreshadowing

This is just the second season Class B has utilized four conferences: the East, South, North and West. Prior to last season, Class B featured seven districts, with the top teams from each advancing to the playoffs. The final two playoff berths were determined using a power-point formula. Even with seven No. 1 seeds, the semifinal round hasn’t featured four No. 1 seeds since 2013. Roundup (East), Big Timber (South), Fairfield (North) and Missoula Loyola (West) are the No. 1 seeds in this year’s bracket. Will all four advance? Or will we see at least one lower seed advance for the fifth consecutive season?