Billings Central vs. Laurel

Billings Central's Junior Brackenridge (6) and Laurel's Kyson Moran (3) try to make a play on a pass intended for Brackenridge during the Laurel Locomotives game against the Billings Central Rams at Laurel High School in Laurel on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. The pass fell incomplete.

Here's a quick look at football playoff games around the state this weekend:

Friday

Class AA semifinals

Bozeman (7-2, No. 5 Class AA) at Billings West (8-0, No. 2), 7 p.m., Wendy’s Field at Daylis Stadium: It was just three weeks ago that the Hawks pushed the Golden Bears to the brink before a touchdown with 5:06 to play gave West the lead for good. The defenses seemed to have the better of things in the Bears’ 23-19 win, so we’ll see if either offense has any tricks up their sleeve for this meeting. Both teams are in the semifinals for the third season in a row; West won the state title in 2018 with Bozeman taking the title last season.

Billings Senior (8-1, No. 3 Class AA) at Missoula Sentinel (8-0, No. 1), 7 p.m.: The top-ranked Spartans’ defense gives up just 5.9 points per game, so the game will be a test for sure for the Broncs’ offense. Sentinel, of course, will want to contain Senior dual-threat quarterback Junior Bergen and his 28 combined touchdowns, while the Broncs will have to deal with the alternating QB-style of the Spartans’ Dayton Bay and Camden Sirmon. And here’s a fun fact: Both teams have had four players complete at least one pass this season.

Saturday

Class A championship

Laurel (7-1, No. 4 Class A) at Billings Central (7-0, No. 2), 1 p.m., Lockwood Stadium: This is the first time the Eastern A rivals have met in a state title game. Laurel beat Hamilton 21-10 for the 1999 championship and edged Havre 21-19 in the 2002 title game. The Locomotives lost to Miles City 35-7 in last year’s championship game. Central has played in 10 state title games and won four, most recently in 2018, when it beat Hamilton 28-21 (Central also won the 1956 championship). The Rams beat Laurel 28-14 on Sept. 25.

Class B semifinals

Glasgow (9-2, No. 6 Class B) at Manhattan (10-0, No. 1), 1 p.m.: Glasgow has not reached a state title game since 1986, when it was in Class A and beat Whitefish 27-0 for its fourth championship. Manhattan reached its first title game a year ago and lost 20-6 to Eureka. Glasgow knocked off the defending champion 28-6 in the first round two weeks ago and defeated Columbus 46-0 last week. Manhattan has been perfect in the playoffs so far, crushing Colstrip 52-0 and Malta 50-0. Glasgow lost to Malta 36-14 on Oct. 9 and 14-8 to Fairfield on Oct. 23.

Florence-Carlton (8-1, No. 2 Class B) at Fairfield (7-1, No. 3), 1 p.m.: Florence-Carlton’s last state title game appearance was 1980 in Class C, and it lost 50-0 to Columbus. Three years earlier, the Falcons beat Absarokee for the Class C championship. Fairfield has played for a title 10 times, most recently in 2018, when it beat Missoula Loyola 30-13 for its fourth state crown. Florence-Carlton’s only loss this season was 35-29 to Manhattan on Sept. 4. Fairfield fell to now-No. 10 Red Lodge on Oct. 10.

8-Man semifinals

Drummond-Philipsburg (10-0, No. 2 8-Man) at Fort Benton (8-0, No. 1): The only No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the state this week will determine one of the 8-Man state title game participants. Drummond has won all seven championship games it has reached, most recently 50-14 over Great Falls Central in 2018. Fort Benton played for three straight Class B titles from 2002 to 2004, its only championship game appearances. The Longhorns defeated Columbus 18-8 in 2002 for their first and only title. They cruised past No. 9 Joliet 64-14 last week, and Drummond-Philipsburg handled No. 5 Fairview 48-6 to reach the semifinals.

Shelby (6-1, No. 10 8-Man) at Scobey (9-1, No. 4): Shelby is hoping to make its third state title game and its first since 2017, when it lost 47-7 to Eureka in the final game. The Coyotes beat Choteau 19-14 for the 1988 Class B title. Scobey’s last title game appearance was in 2002, when it handled Wibaux 50-6 for its third championship. Shelby has not lost since its season opener on Aug. 29 at Joliet, which prevailed 46-26. The Coyotes beat Park City last week with perhaps the craziest score of the season: 87-68. Scobey’s only loss also came in the season opener, 28-22 at now-No. 6 Westby-Grenora. The Spartans beat No. 3 Thompson Falls 40-24 last week.

6-Man championship

White Sulphur Springs (6-0, No. 4 6-Man) at Froid-Lake (8-0, No. 3): The winner of this game will be a first-time state champion. White Sulphur Springs has never played for a state title before now, and Froid-Lake has lost all three championship games it has reached, most recently 36-32 to Wibaux in 2000 for the Class B crown. White Sulphur Springs handled No. 2 Shields Valley 54-13 last week, while Froid-Lake rallied past top-ranked Big Sandy 42-26.

— Mike Scherting and Victor Flores, 406mtsports.com

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