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Montana High School Association approves football realignments, other items at Monday meeting

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Posted at 11:52 AM, Jan 13, 2021

HELENA -- The Montana High School Association executive board on Monday took final action on a number of realignment items from previous meetings.

During a regularly scheduled meeting, the board approved realignments for 6- and 8-Man football. It also gave final approval to reclassify Great Falls Central from Class B to Class C.

The Executive Board will continue to evaluate winter activities as they progress and will address post season formats for winter events sometime in late January. The items were originally approved at the board's November meeting, but all board-approved items are sent to the member schools for a two-week review.

Great Falls Central will remain at the 8-Man football level and will be joined by Harlem and Poplar for the 2021 season. Harlem and Poplar are Class B schools that previously played 11-man football. Harlem will compete in the 8-Man North and Poplar in the 8-Man East, giving each of those conferences 12 varsity teams. The 8-Man West features 11 teams and the 8-Man South has seven.

The 8-Man conference alignment is broken down as follows:

8-Man East: Broadus, Ekalaka, Circle, Culbertson, Fairview, Forsyth, Lame Deer (JV only), Lodge Grass, Plentywood, Poplar, St. Labre, Scobey, Westby-Grenora.

8-Man North: Belt, Cascade, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Chinook, Choteau, Fort Benton, Great Falls Central, Harlem, Hays-Lodgepole, Rocky Boy, Shelby, Simms.

8-Man South: Absarokee, Ennis, Joliet, Lone Peak, Park City, Sheridan, Twin Bridges.

8-Man East: Alberton-Superior, Arlee, Charlo, Darby, Drummond-Philipsburg, Plains, St. Ignatius, Seeley-Swan, Thompson Falls, Troy, Victor.

The board also took final action to approve the new 6-Man alignment, which will include West Yellowstone. The Wolverines are reclassifying from 8-Man after they were unable to field a varsity team last fall. West Yellowstone will compete in the 6-Man West.

The 6-Man conference alignment is broken down as follows:

6-Man North: Big Sandy, Box Elder, Heart Butte, North Star, Power-Dutton-Brady, Sunburst, Valier.

6-Man Central: Centerville, Denton-Geyser-Stanford, Geraldine-Highwood, Grass Range-Winnett, Harlowton-Ryegate, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap, Roy-Winifred.

6-Man South: Bridger, Broadview-Lavina, Custer-Hysham, Fromberg, Northern Cheyenne (JV only), Plenty Coups (JV only), Reed Point-Rapelje, Shields Valley.

6-Man East: Bainville, Froid-Medicine Lake, Jordan, Richey-Lambert, Savage, Wibaux.

6-Man West: Gardiner, Hot Springs, Noxon, Valley Christian, West Yellowstone, White Sulphur Springs.

With the 8-Man and 6-Man movement, the executive board also approved a request from Class B to realign its football divisions. That approval will be sent to member schools for a two-week review. If given final approval, the Class B alignment will be broken down as follows:

East: Baker, Colstrip, Huntley Project, Roundup, Shepherd, Red Lodge.

North: Conrad, Cut Bank, Fairfield, Glasgow, Malta, Wolf Point.

South: Big Timber, Columbus, Jefferson, Manhattan, Three Forks, Townsend.

West: Anaconda, Bigfork, Deer Lodge (JV only), Eureka, Florence, Missoula Loyola, Whitehall.

In addition to approving the realignments for football, the executive board also gave final approval to realign East Helena from the Southeast A to the Southwest A for all sports, including soccer, and on the Class C golf realignment and qualifying criteria.

On the subject of high school baseball, which was brought to the forefront of discussions back in December, MHSA executive director Mark Beckman told MTN Sports that surveys have been sent out to schools and the results will be announced at the MHSA annual meeting next week.

For two-week notice sent to member schools, the board approved assigning Lockwood to the Eastern A for soccer and placing Simms boys and girls tennis teams in the same division (the Northwest B-C), effective this year.

The 2021 MHSA annual meeting will be held virtually on Jan. 18 beginning at 8:30 a.m.