By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Even though it feels like we should all be golfing or mowing the lawn, it is late October and that means the high school football season is entering the playoff portion of the year. So here is a look ahead at the weeks to come on the Hi-Line and across the state.
The Class A ranks will get under way this weekend with four games on the schedule. Conference champions Dillon (8-0), Belgrade (8-1), Miles City (8-0) and Libby (7-1) have all earned first-round byes and will host quarterfinal games next weekend.
The two remaining Central A teams will be in action however. The Havre Blue Ponies (8-1) will host the Sidney Eagles (4-4) in a rematch of an Aug. 22 showdown that the Ponies won 28-14 in Sidney. The winner of that game will then move on to take on Northwest A champion Libby next week.
Meanwhile, Laurel (4-5) enters the playoffs as the defending Class A state champions and will make the short drive to Billings to take on the Billings Central Rams (6-2). The winner of that game will have the pleasure of traveling to top-ranked and undefeated Dillon next Saturday.
The other two Class A matchups this weekend are also intriguing. Butte Central was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state this season, but the Maroons lost their last three games of the season to finish 5-3.
Central will visit Whitefish (5-3), which came on strong after two straight losses to open the season.
The Bulldogs also have junior tailback in Jolly Righetti, who eclipsed the state's single-game rushing record last Friday night.
Righetti racked up an astonishing 446 yards on just 25 carries in a 43-7 win over Columbia Falls.
The winner of the Whitefish/Butte Central matchup will visit Belgrade next weekend.
The final game of the weekend pits the Frenchtown Broncs (7-1) hosting the Polson Pirates (5-3). Frenchtown has had an amazing season under veteran head coach Tim Racicot despite the fact that this is its first year in Class A sports. The winner of that game will travel to Miles City next weekend.
In case any of you are wondering, if the Havre Blue Ponies are set to make another run to the state championship game, then you better start making hotel reservations now. If the Ponies get by Sidney on Saturday and Libby next weekend, there is no possible scenario in which they can host the semifinals. And the only chance of hosting the state championship game is if Laurel is in it.
The Class C playoffs will also get under way this weekend ,which spells excitement for the No. 2 ranked Big Sandy Pioneers. Big Sandy (8-0) shared the regular season championship with Belt (8-0) and then won a coin toss to gain the No. 1 seed from the Northern Division.
The Pioneers will open the playoffs Saturday afternoon against arch-rival Chester (6-2) and should have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. After an early season drubbing at the hands of Belt, the Coyotes won six out of their last seven games. The only other loss came at the hands of the Pioneers back in September.
Meanwhile, Belt will host Power-Dutton-GFC (6-2) in the other Northern C showdown. The winner of that contest will take on the winner of Charlo (4-3) and Drummond (7-0). Other Class C playoff games include Fairview (3-4) at Ekalaka (7-1), Shields Valley (6-2) at Harlowtown (7-1), Stanford-Geyser (6-2) at Gardiner (7-1), Wibaux (7-1) at Savage (5-2) and Sheridan (5-2) at Alberton (8-0).
In Class B football, the Fort Benton Longhorns will also have to take to the road if they are to repeat as state champions. The Longhorns finished second in District 1B thanks to a 21-20 loss to Conrad two weeks ago. The Horns will open defense of their 2002 state title at Plentywood (6-2). Plentyood finished second in District 2B play.
Meanwhile, the Conrad Cowboys (8-0) will host the Malta Mustangs (5-3) in another Northeast B showdown. The Mustangs rallied from two early season losses to grab the third playoff spot in District 2B.
District 2B champion Glasgow will host the Cut Bank Wolves (6-2). Despite being the 2003 2B champs, the Scotties might be heavy underdogs this weekend. Cut Bank's only two losses came at the hands of Conrad and Fort Benton.
In other Class B action, Boulder (7-1) will travel to top-ranked Baker (8-0). The matchup will be between the top two offenses in all of Class B football. Big Timber (6-2) will visit Ennis (7-1), Eureka (7-1) will travel to Superior (8-0), Florence (4-4) visits Thompson Falls (8-0) and Broadus (6-2) will travel to Columbus (5-3).
The Class C six-man playoffs will get started next weekend, and two Hi-Line teams are still in the hunt for a playoff berth. J-I (5-3) can wrap up a berth this weekend with a win over struggling Brady. Box Elder (4-4) needs a win over Brockton and some help if the Bears are to