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Friday Night Lights: THE NEW NUMBERS GAME

On the Hi-Line and across Montana, many high schools are dealing with football participation issues


September 7, 2018

Colin Thompson

The Chester-Joplin-Inverness Hawks and Choteau Bulldogs battle during a Northern C 8-Man football game last Friday night in Chester. While CJI has strong numbers this season, many teams along the Hi-Line are dealing with participation issues in high school football, including North Star, which had to forfeit last week's rival game against Big Sandy. Choteau is also an example of how the landscape of high school football has changed in Montana. The Bulldogs are a Class B school, and were once a strong contender in 11-man football. Now however, with declines in enrollment in many rural Montana high schools, and less and less participation in the sport of football, for a variety of reasons, schools like Choteau are now playing 8-man football, instead of Class B football, which is full 11-man.

No matter what part of the country you live in, there is something special about high school football.

In Montana, there is no exception to that rule. Friday nights are sacred in Big Sky Country, however, across the state, participation numbers are down, and it has led to more and more forfeits.

And not just games, but seasons, too.

Locally, the North Star Knights, a program with a proud tradition in the Class C Six-Man North Division recently forfeited a game against Big Sandy. It's not surprising in today's climate but at one time, it was pretty hard to imagine the Knights not fieldi...

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