COLUMBIA FALLS – High school football has reached the postseason push, and Columbia Falls continues to play deep into November.
The Wildcats won their first state title last year and lost in the championship game in 2016. This is the seventh consecutive playoff appearance for Columbia Falls. Head coach Jaxon Schweikert has created a culture where his Wildcats constantly focus on the details, even in the offseason.
“After the season, the kids still show up, because they are so used to going to one of the coaches’ rooms for lunch that they keep going,” said Schweikert about daily film sessions during lunch. “It takes a month or two to kind of go, ‘Hey, we want to do something else for lunch. Why don’t you guys scatter around or something?’ We have a saying around here: We want to deserve victory, and we want to do all of the little things. Now, deserving victory never guarantees anything, but we want to work for it and do all of the little things that we can to help us win. And if we do that, we can hold our head high.”
The defending champions are one win away from a third straight trip to the championship after last week’s 23-22 win over Lewistown. Colten McPhee set the Wildcats’ single-season rushing record on Saturday by raising his total to more than 1,800 yards, but the rest of the game didn’t come easy. Columbia Falls built a two-touchdown lead and then hung on to beat Lewistown, 23-22.
“We kind of got on our heels a little bit,” said Schweikert. “They got the momentum. It showed some real character for us to hang in there and fight and fight to the end and be able to stop them. That was a good, hard-fought game.”
Now Columbia Falls hosts Hamilton in the Class A semifinal round at 1 p.m. Saturday. The two western Montana rivals are growing quite familiar with each other. The Wildcats beat the Broncs in last year’s state championship, 26-14, but undefeated Hamilton won in Columbia Falls on Aug. 31, 35-24, handing the Wildcats their only loss of the season.