Oh, the miles you'll go

Teams, including Blue Hawks, travel hundreds of miles for playoffs


November 7, 2019

Shana Neesvig

PREPPING FOR THE BIG GAME last week, Thompson Falls freshmen students Austin Goatley (left), Ty Hedahl (right, front), Thane Curry (middle) and Colton Wormwood assisted Athletic Director Jake Mickelson in painting the Thompson Falls TF logo midfield Thursday afternoon.

Football playoff fever is gripping Sanders County and the only cure for this affliction is to keep on playing, and winning, as long as possible. Hopefully right up into championship weekend near the end of November.

Two Sanders County teams remain in the hunt for State championships in the Montana 8-Man and 6-Man football ranks.

The Thompson Falls and Hot Springs football teams advanced into the second round of their respective playoffs last week with big home wins, as the Blue Hawks sent the Twin Bridges Falcons packing with a 55-20 win and the Savage Heat moved on by out-maneuvering the Harlowtown-Ryegate Engineers 57-18.

The big win by the Hawks earns coach Jared Koskela and his team an 8-Man quarterfinal date in Fairview with the No. 1 unbeaten Warriors on their home field Saturday. The trip to Fairview will be one of the longest in Thompson Falls High School history as it is located fast on the North Dakota state line northeast of Glendive.

"It's a 12-hour bus ride, I'm hearing it is 723 miles from Thompson Falls," Hawk coach Jared Koskela said, "but we are up for it. The kids are excited for the trip, we'll go over there, do our best and hopefully move on to the next round."

The Hawks, now 9-1, are the second seeded team from the west while the 9-0 Warriors are the No. 1 team from the east. The winner of this game will face the winner of the Fort Benton-Park City game, which will be played in Fort Benton.

Coach Jim Lawson and his Hot Springs boys, the No. 1 seeded 6-Man team from the west, earned another home game with the win over Harlowtown and will now face Westby-Grenora, the No. 3 team from the east. If they win, the Savage Heat will play the survivor of the Shields Valley-Wibaux quarterfinal game in the championship semifinals next week.

Westby-Grenora, also known as Mon-Dak, is probably almost as far away from Hot Springs as Thompson Falls is from Fairview, but the travel onus is on them this time and not on the Savage Heat. Not that Lawson and company don't know what long trips like these are like, Hot Springs defeated Westby-Grenora in nearby Plentywood in the 2016 State 6-Man championship game, so the Spa City boys know a thing or two about this week's opponents as well as the extensive travel required just to get there.

And football is not the only sport well into its post season, area volleyball teams played off in district tournaments last week as well.

In that realm, Thompson Falls and Hot Springs are also the only two Sanders County schools still alive as both teams qualified for their respective divisional tournaments in the District 7B and 14C tourneys last week.

The 7B champions, Thompson Falls will travel to Eureka for the Western B tournament while the Savage Heat, the second place team from the 14C tourney, will travel to Churchill (in the Manhattan area) for the Western C tourney.

Please see the Sports section for more details.


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