Season winding down for prep football teams

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With three weekends left in the regular high school football season, half of the teams (seven) in Class AA have winning records led by Bozeman’s perfect mark of 7-0.

Flathead, 5-2, is currently tied with two others — Billings Senior and Helena High — for third place.

Billings West is second at 6-1.

Great Falls High and Missoula Sentinel are 4-3 and tied for sixth, followed by Helena Capital, 3-4.

Glacier remains in the hunt for postseason play despite a 2-5 mark. Helping the Wolfpack playoff cause is the fact that it is tied for ninth place with four other teams.

The top eight advance to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

Glacier faces Helena Capital tonight at Legends Stadium and follows with Missoula Big Sky (2-5) at home and then at Missoula Hellgate (2-5).

Flathead has back-to-back road games starting tonight at Great Falls C.M. Russell (2-5) and next week at Missoula Hellgate (2-5) in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Flathead ends the regular-season at home versus Helena High.

Flathead is looking to make it two straight postseason appearances.

Glacier, which missed out on the playoffs in 2017 after an eight-year run, is anxious and battling to return.

“There is more parity this year in the league,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said.

“Maybe more than there has ever been. Top to bottom, it’s more competitive. Not necessarily one dominant team, but Bozeman is very good. I look at us and a couple of other (2-5) teams as pretty good teams.”

Flathead

It was a record-setting night last Friday for senior quarterback Jaden MacNeil and Anthony Jones.

MacNeil set a FHS game record with his seven touchdowns — five passing, one rushing and one receiving.

“Three different kinds of touchdowns,” coach Kyle Samson said.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That’s pretty impressive.

“He’s very confident in the guys around him,” Samson said of MacNeil.

“It starts up front with the offensive line. They do a tremendous job. And it’s a fun time for me in play calling with all the weapons we have.”

MacNeil was 14 of 17 versus Big Sky for 212 yards.

Anthony Jones tied a FHS game record for touchdown receptions with five — 27, 10, 19, 46 and 39 yards. He had 10 catches for 163 yards.

Another record is in jeopardy tonight as senior running back Blake Counts needs just 47 yards to break Lex Hilliard’s single season rushing mark at Flathead set in 2000. Counts has rolled up 1,338 yards thus far.

Last week versus Big Sky, Counts totaled 178 yards on 25 carries.

“Going into the home stretch, we feel very confidence where we are at,” Samson said.

“I do I think we are getting better every week. We had a tough first half against Bozeman, but coming out in second half we grew up. We were not able to win the game, but were able to play so well. Against Big Sky to go up 42-7 at halftime was a product of the way we practiced.

“I thought it was our defense’s best game ... they did a tremendous job against Big Sky stopping the run. And for us to get three turnovers there in the first half was huge. They stepped up and got us a short field.”

Scoring might not be so easy against CMR, who earlier this season shut out Glacier in a 9-0 victory.

“The strength is their defense for sure,” Samson said.

“They are 2-5, but they are a very solid football team, big and have some good size. It’s a big game on the road. They (CMR Rustlers) always play good at home.

“Looking good,” Samson said of his team at this point of the season.

“One thing I’m proud of is where we are at, but we’re not satisfied.”

Glacier

Things are finally looking up for the Wolfpack. After a rough, and difficult stretch, Glacier is moving in the right direction.

“We got a big win,” Bennett said of last week’s 42-38 triumph over Great Falls.

“Watching us now (in practice), the kids have great energy. The enthusiasm has grown despite our record. That’s a good thing.”

Glacier has scored 40-plus points in its two wins this season.

“They practiced so good last week, definitely not like a 1-5 team,” Bennett said.

“Keep trying to become the best team we can become.”

Bennett said Helena Capital, despite its record, can’t be overlooked.

“An improving team, much improved since the beginning of season,” he said.

“They made some personnel changes. Hopefully we are two teams on the rise, improving, hungry to stay in the fight, the mix.”

Bennett said Capital is stout on the defensive side, which was reflected in its outing with Billings West last week. West had to battle and fight for every point in a tough 14-10 victory.

Senior running back Preston Blain was Glacier’s big offensive weapon last week, bolting 80 yards for a touchdown and returning a kickoff 80 yards for another.

He added another score on a 1-yard run.

Quarterback Evan Todd turned in big plays with touchdown passes of 17, 18 and 30 yards to Cole Crosby, Drew Deck and Travis Proulx, respectively.

The Wolfpack showed great balance with 171 yards rushing and 175 passing.

Games of the Week

Columbia Falls at Whitefish, 7 p.m.

Missoula Loyola at Bigfork, 7 p.m.

Columbia Falls, ranked No. 3 in the Class A poll, and Whitefish are both on a roll heading into this matchup.

Both teams are 3-0 in Northwestern A action and are riding five-game winning streaks.

“Hopefully it will be a good game,” Whitefish coach Chad Ross said.

“They are defending state champions, they have walked over us the last couple of years.”

Columbia Falls romped to a 56-7 victory in this rivalry contest a year ago and 42-0 the year before that.

Whitefish was the big winner in 2015, 47-7.

“Columbia Falls is a great football team,” Ross said.

“Colton (McPhee) is the best running back I’ve seen on film, (Gage) Karlin is the best offensive lineman on film. He’s 300 pounds, moves well.”

Karlin is a 6-foot-2 senior.

“They are so well rounded,” Ross said of Columbia Falls offensively.

“We have to not make any mistakes, play a perfect game and make the best of the opportunities we have.”

Ross says if it comes down to a close game, he feels he has the best field goal kicker in the state in Carver Gilman.

“If we can’t stop them up front, they will dominate,” Ross said.

“If we can stop the run, we have a chance.”

Ross said Whitefish is very balanced with running backs Jack Isenbarth and Devin Beale and Mark Anderson at quarterback.

“He is throwing the ball well,” Ross said of Anderson.

“Every game, five different guys catch the ball. He does a great job of throwing to whoever is open.”

Both teams romped last week in league play, Columbia Falls 64-7 over Ronan and Whitefish 38-0 over Polson.

Columbia Falls closes regular-season action on Oct. 19 at Polson while Whitefish finishes up at Libby.

Top-ranked Bigfork is back home after a experiencing a road scare last week in a 21-14 victory at Townsend in Class B play. Townsend scored in the fourth quarter to make it close. Fifth-ranked Missoula Loyola had a much easier time of it, however, with a 42-6 romp over Anaconda.

Bigfork and Loyola are both 4-0 in Western B play. Bigfork is 6-0 overall while Loyola checks in at 6-1.

Loyola won last year’s meeting in Missoula 30-14, thanks to a 16-point fourth quarter.

“They always seem to be a pretty good game, this year is no exception,” Bigfork coach Todd Emslie said of the battles with Loyola.

“Always very, very competitive,” he said of Loyola.

“Very good, well coached. They always show up to play for sure. We’re just excited, ecstatic to have them at home. It’s been a long time since we’ve had them in Bigfork.”

Loyola is led by running back Ryan Tirrell, a 6-2, 205 senior, and wide receiver Cooper Waters, a senior.

Tirrell, who committed to play football at Montana last April, rushed for 216 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-12 victory over Eureka earlier this fall.

Bigfork can answer with its offensive playmakers — running back Randy Stultz and quarterback Anders Epperly. Stultz rushed for three touchdowns and 90 yards while Epperly had four touchdown passes and ran for another in a 43-0 blowout of Thompson Falls. The week before in a 37-0 win over Eureka, Stultz rushed for three touchdowns and 180 yards. Epperly was 9 of 18 passing for 134 yards.

Bigfork has outscored the opposition 223-43. For Loyola, it’s 261-113.

“We had a good week of practice,” Emslie said.

“We’re ready, not overly hyped to play. Our seniors have been great all year. We’ve had some good games, traveled a lot, are road tested. This is just our third home game of the season.”

Bigfork ends its schedule on Oct. 19 at Deer Lodge while Loyola finishes at Florence.

Standings

Class AA

Overall

W L

Bozeman 7 0

Billings West 6 1

Billings Senior 5 2

Helena High 5 2

Flathead 5 2

Great Falls High 4 3

Missoula Sentinel 4 3

Helena Capital 3 4

Butte 2 5

Great Falls CMR 2 5

Glacier 2 5

Missoula Big Sky 2 5

Missoula Hellgate 2 5

Billings Skyview 0 7

Today’s Games

4 p.m. — Billings West at Missoula Sentinel

7 p.m. — Helena Capital at Glacier

7 p.m. — Flathead at Great Falls C.M. Russell

7 p.m. — Great Falls High at Butte

7 p.m. — Billings Skyview at Helena High

7 p.m. — Missoula Hellgate at Billings Senior

7:30 p.m. — Bozeman at Missoula Big Sky

Last Week

Flathead 56, Missoula Big Sky 31

Glacier 42, Great Falls High 38

Billings Senior 40, Butte 27

Billings West 14, Helena Capital 10

Bozeman 42, Helena High 22

Great Falls CMR 34, Billings Skyview 14

Missoula Sentinel 28, Missoula Hellgate 14

Class A

Western

Northwestern

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Columbia Falls 3 0 5 1

Whitefish 3 0 5 2

Libby 2 1 3 4

Ronan 1 2 1 5?

Browning 0 3 1 6

Polson 0 3 0 7

Today’s Games

7 p.m. — Columbia Falls at Whitefish

7 p.m. — Libby at Ronan

7 p.m. — Polson at Browning

Last Week

Columbia Falls 64, Ronan 7

Whitefish 38, Polson 0

Libby 41, Browning 14

Southwestern

Conf. Overall

Hamilton 3 0 7 0

Dillon 3 0 5 1

Frenchtown 2 1 6 1

Corvallis 1 2 4 3

Butte Central 0 3 2 4

Stevensville 0 3 2 5

Eastern

Conf./Overall

Billings Central 7 0

Laurel 6 1

Lewistown 6 1

Belgrade 4 3

Miles City 4 3

Sidney 3 4

Glendive 2 5

Livingston 2 5

Havre 1 6

Hardin 0 7

Class B

Western

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Bigfork 4 0 6 0

Missoula Loyola 4 0 6 1

Eureka 3 2 5 2

Florence 2 2 5 2

Deer Lodge 2 2 2 4

Thompson Falls 0 4 0 7

Anaconda 0 5 0 7

Today’s Games

6 p.m. — Deer Lodge at Eureka

7 p.m. — Missoula Loyola at Bigfork

7 p.m. — Florence at Thompson Falls

Anaconda is idle

Northern

Conf. Overall

Fairfield 4 0 6 0

Glasgow 4 1 4 2

Malta 3 1 3 3

Cut Bank 2 3 3 4

Wolf Point 1 3 1 5

Conrad 1 3 1 5

Harlem 0 4 0 5

Southern

Conf. Overall

Big Timber 5 0 6 0

Manhattan 3 1 3 3

Townsend 3 2 4 3

Three Forks 2 3 4 3

Columbus 1 3 3 3

Whitehall 1 3 2 5

Jefferson 1 4 2 5

Eastern

Conf. Overall

Roundup 3 0 6 0

Colstrip 3 1 6 1

Huntley Project 2 1 4 2

Red Lodge 1 2 1 5

Shepherd 1 2 2 5

Baker 0 4 1 5

8 Man

West

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Drummond-Philipsburg 7 0 7 0

Charlo 6 1 6 1

Arlee 5 2 5 2

Alberton-Superior 5 2 5 2

St. Ignatius 4 3 4 3

Darby 3 4 3 4

Seeley-Swan 2 5 2 5

Victor 2 5 2 5

Plains 1 6 1 6

Troy 0 7 0 7

North

A Sub Division

Conf. Overall

Great Falls Central 5 0 7 0

Choteau 4 1 5 2

Chester-Joplin-Inverness 3 2 5 2

Belt 2 3 2 4

Box Elder 1 4 1 5

Hays-Lodgepole 0 5 0 5

B Sub Division

Conf. Overall

Shelby 6 0 6 0

Centerville 5 1 6 1

Chinook 4 2 4 3

Fort Benton 3 3 3 4

Simms 2 4 2 4

Cascade 1 5 1 6

Rocky Boy 0 6 0 6

South

Conf. Overall

Joliet 6 0 7 0

Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap 5 1 6 1

Ennis 4 2 4 3

Twin Bridges 4 2 4 3

Park City 3 3 3 3

Lone Peak 1 5 2 5

Absarokee 1 5 1 6

Harlowton 0 6 1 6

East

Conf. Overall

Fairview 7 0 7 0

Culbertson 6 1 6 1

Circle 6 1 6 1

Scobey 4 3 4 3

Broadus 4 3 4 3

Forsyth 3 4 3 4

Plentywood 2 5 2 5

Lame Deer 1 6 1 6

Lodge Grass 1 6 1 6

St. Labre 1 6 1 6

6 Man

West

Conf. Overall

W L W L

West Yellowstone 6 1 6 1

White Sulphur Springs 5 1 5 2

Hot Springs 5 1 7 1

Noxon 4 2 4 2

Valley Christian 4 2 4 3

Gardiner 2 4 2 5

Sheridan 1 5 2 5

Lincoln 1 6 1 6

Lima 0 6 0 6

North

Conf. Overall

Geraldine-Highwood 5 0 6 1

Big Sandy 4 1 4 2

Denton-Geyser-Stanford 4 1 5 2

Sunburst 4 2 4 3

Power-Dutton-Brady 2 3 4 3

Valier 1 4 2 5

North Star 1 5 1 5

Heart Butte 0 5 0 7

South

Conf. Overall

Grass Range-Winnett 7 0 8 0

Roy-Winifred 7 0 7 0

Bridger 6 1 7 1

Shields Valley 4 3 5 3

Reed Point-Rapelje 3 4 3 4

Fromberg 3 4 3 4

Plenty Coups 2 5 2 5

Broadview-Lavina 2 5 2 5

Northern Cheyenne 0 7 0 7

Custer-Hysham 0 7 0 7

East

Conf. Overall

Wibaux 5 0 6 0

Richey-Lambert 5 0 6 1

Jordan 3 2 5 2

Westby-Grenora 3 2 5 2

Savage 2 3 4 3

Bainville 2 4 3 4

Ekalaka 1 5 1 5

Froid-Lake 0 5 1 5

Rankings

By 406mtsports.com

Through Oct. 6

Class AA

1. Bozeman (7-0)

2. Billings West (6-1)

3. Billings Senior (5-2)

4. Flathead (5-2)

5. Helena (5-2)

Class A

1. Hamilton (7-0)

2. Billings Central (7-0)

3. Columbia Falls (5-1)

4. Laurel (6-1)

5. Dillon (5-1)

Class B

1. Bigfork (6-0)

2. Fairfield (6-0)

3. Roundup (6-0)

4. Big Timber (6-0)

5. Missoula Loyola (6-1)

6. Colstrip (6-1)

7. Eureka (5-2)

8. Florence (5-2)

9. Huntley Project (4-2)

10. Glasgow (4-2)

Class C 8-Man

1. Drummond-Philipsburg (7-0)

2. Shelby (6-0)

3. Fairview (7-0)

4. Great Falls Central (7-0)

5. Joliet (7-0)

6. Charlo (6-1)

7. Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap (6-1)

8. Circle (6-1)

9. Albertson-Superior (5-2)

10. Culbertson (6-1)

Class C 6-Man

1. Wibaux (6-0)

2. Geraldine-Highwood (6-1)

3. Grass Range-Winnett (8-0)

4. Richey-Lambert (6-1)

5. Hot Spring (7-1)

6. West Yellowstone (6-1)

7. Jordan (5-2)

8. Bridger (7-1)

9. Big Sandy (4-2)

10. Westby-Grenora (5-2)

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