By George Ferguson
If you're wondering where the Havre Blue Ponies are sitting in the Central A playoff race as they head into their final game of the regular season Friday night, we'll try and sort it out for you.
The Central A playoff picture is about as clear as mud right now.
Currently, the Ponies are sitting in third place in the Central A Conference behind Laurel and Lewistown. While Havre faces Livingston, Browning will visit Laurel and Lewistown will travel to Browning.
Havre, Laurel and Lewistown all enter Friday's contests with one loss in conference play, but because of point differential the Locomotives are in first place because of their win over Lewistown. The Ponies are in third place because of their lopsided loss to the Eagles two weeks ago, despite the fact that they defeated Laurel by a lopsided margin.
If the Ponies, Locomotives and Eagles all win on Friday night, Havre will, because of the tie-breaker system, finish third and have to travel to the Eastern A second place team, which at present time is the Sidney Eagles.
If Belgrade were to upset Lewistown, Havre would finish second and the Panthers would slide into the No. 3 spot, knocking Lewistown out of the playoff picture.
If the Browning Indians would somehow upset Laurel, the Ponies would be conference champs and receive a first round bye in the playoffs, and host a second-round game.
And the worst-case scenario would be if Havre loses which would eliminate them from the playoff picture and allow Belgrade to sneak in.
The Northwest A picture looks a little clearer after the Whitefish Bulldogs managed to stave off the Polson Pirates on Friday night. The Bulldogs downed the Pirates 16-10, but Polson is still assured a spot in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of its game Friday night against conference cellar dweller Ronan. Columbia Falls and Bigfork are fighting for the final Northwest A playoff berth. Bigfork simply needs to defeat Libby to get in, while Columbia Falls would need a Bigfork loss and an upset victory of Whitefish to get in.
In the Eastern A, Miles City has sewn up the conference title after defeating Sidney earlier this year. Sidney is sitting comfortably in second place. Hardin will take third unless Glendive could pull off an improbable upset of Glendive on Friday night.
Meanwhile in the Southwest A, the Dillon Beavers have the conference title locked up as they have gone undefeated on the season. Butte Central has second place secure, while Hamilton, Anaconda and Corvallis all have a chance to grab the third spot depending on the outcome of this weekend's games.
Congratulations to Dave Nelson and his Box Elder Bears. The Bears grabbed their first football victory in over 2 years on Saturday afternoon. Box Elder defeated archrival Rocky Boy in a thrilling 42-36 overtime win. The Bears, who did not have a football team last year, are now 1-7 on the season with two games remaining on their schedule.
Not that it isn't amazing that Geraldine racked up 80 points in Brockton on Saturday. Even more amazing was the fact that nine different Tiger players scored touchdowns in the 80-40 win.
Also congratulations to a couple of incredible rushing efforts over the weekend. Havre's Levi Briese rushed for 254 yards on 30 carries in the Ponies' 33-6 win over Belgrade on Friday night. Whitefish sophomore Jolly Righetti gained 127 yards in the Bulldogs' win over Polson on Friday. That effort caps off a seven-game runin which Righetti has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of those contests. Also on Saturday Scobey senior fullback Eric Haddenhorst rushed for an outstanding 272 yards and five touchdowns in a victory over Savage.
Flathead High sophomore Zoe Nelson will look to cap off a perfect season when she attempts to defend her AA State title at the Cross Country Championships in Helena. Nelson has not lost a race that she has entered this year and has set several course records along the way. The Bigfork and Cut Bank girls teams will also look to defend state titles this weekend. Both are favored to repeat in Helena.
If Browning's Wasewi Shawl believes in momentum, she has to feel pretty confident going into the Class A girls race in Helena on Saturday. Shawl has won two consecutive races, in Havre and last week at the Central A Divisional meet in Bozeman.