BUTTE – Drummond-Philipsburg used a 22-0 blast in the opening two minutes and nine seconds of the second half of the 2020 State 8 title game as a stepping stone to a 44-6 victory over Scobey for the third Titans Championship in four years.
For Flint Creek, the victory also ensured a perfect 12-0 season and a fire truck return to town.
Can one of the permanent powers of the state start over? The Titans usually reload, but thanks to some key degree losses, the competition is fierce.
Guide to 8-a-side football
Champion 2020: Drummond-Philipsburg (Flint Creek)
Large-scale title hunt: The Joliets, Fairviews, Scobey’s and Fort Benton’s around the world have all graduated as seniors who have been instrumental in the success of their teams. Defending state champion Flint Creek has also lost key seniors such as Montana state-linked Kade Cutler and will play his first season under new head coach Jason Ostler.
“There were so many senior teams in the playoffs last year so how it’s going to stack up, it can fluctuate so much with three or four kids here or there that any team any year can be. a really tough team, âOstler said in an interview with 406mtsports.com and the Missoulian. “It’s pretty hard to say who will be the team to beat, and it should be a pretty open and competitive class this year.”
That said, it’s probably safe to rely on these top teams to get straight back into the mix around playoff time.
Cohesion at the start of the season: Unlike 2020, teams across the state were able to have a relatively stress-free off-season training regimen. Teams like Park City, which return a solid core of contributors, should benefit, especially at the start of the season. The Panthers return first team all-talk quarterback Jake Gauthier and first-team all-talk catcher Tristin Kindsfather.
Ekalaka is making a strong comeback on both sides of the ball, QB 2020 All States and All Conferences and DB Turner Tooke. The Bulldogs will also have second-team goalie Brennan Bonsell from All Conferences on the O-Line to protect Tooke.
Look for teams that have almost reached the playoffs in 2020, like Charlo. The Vikings are set to take a step forward as they return teammates Coyle Nagy to quarterback and half-back Tucker Love, both of whom were in conference last season.
Drop-down menus: In 2020, the former 6-Man Westby-Grenora powerhouse showed Montana that it may be successful in upgrading to 8-Man. This year, the 8-player teams will win a new generation of contestants in Harlem and Poplar, both of whom come from Class B for football. Last season, Shelby, another former Class B program who dropped out in 2018, advanced to the 8-man state semi-finals. West Yellowstone has gone from 8-Man to 6-Man.
Back in the field: A year ago, Lodge Grass and St. Labre were two of three tribal schools in southeast Montana to cancel fall sports – Northern Cheyenne was the other – due to COVID-19. This year, the Indians and the Braves return to the field.
Both are usually Class B programs, but play 8-Man for football. Coincidentally, the teams will be the first in the state to play this fall when they kick off at 6 p.m. Thursday in Saint-Labre.
Matthew Kiewiet is the sports writer for Montana Standard and the sports betting columnist for 406MTSports. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ mattkiewiet406.