Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

View from the Sidelines


November 21, 2019

John Hamilton

JODY DETLAFF jumps up on a block attempt as teammate Riley Wilson watches at the Western B tourney. Lady Hawks won third place in the division.

Turn out the lights, the party's over... OK, well not quite over; but it's never over, you'll see what we are talking about if you continue reading this column.

Yes, sports fans we are very close to the end of one season but on the cusp of the next, you see, or you should see by now, that the cycle of sports never really, truly ends.

One thing that I have learned in this business is that the ending of one sports season always leads to the beginning of the next. And it is happening again before our very eyes.

As cross country runners slow down to an offseason trot, as the football players check in their helmets and uniforms, and as the volleyball teams roll up and put away the nets for the year, the basketball and wrestling coaches are already drawing up practice plans for their sports, which all start this week.

You kinda think things are over and you can take a mental break but then you realize it is more a changing of the guard than anything else, nothing is really over at any time. Maybe this particular season is over but another is already beginning; each season is only a part of the ongoing continuum.

Being a sports writer for a fair amount of seasons myself, I never cease to be amazed at how fast one thing ends and another begins, and am caught in a timeless cycle of always trying to catch up.

And here we are again, looking at the cross country, volleyball and football seasons in the rearview mirror as we drive past but viewing the upcoming basketball and wrestling seasons through the windshield as we move on.

Oh well, here we go again then...


Although fall high school sports truly are over and done with for all teams in Sanders County, there still is one more weekend of prep football left as Class AA, A, B, 8-Man and 6-Man championship games will be played in various locales across this wide body of land, this vast inland empire we call Montana.

Since Clark Fork and Eureka are the only remaining area football teams still in the title fight, we will start with those squads.

The Clark Fork Mountain Cats, a cooperative program formed four years ago between the Mineral County schools of Superior and Alberton, remained undefeated with a 44-14 win over Great Falls Central in Superior Saturday, while the Fairview Warriors also stayed unbeaten by blasting Fort Benton 48-8 in the other semifinal in Fairview.

Earning a consolation honor of sorts, the Thompson Falls Blue Hawks' only two losses of their 9-2 season came at the hands of the two teams playing in the 8-Man championship.

For comparison's sake, the 12-0 Mountain Cats defeated the Blue Hawks 56-38 in Alberton way back on Sept. 13 and the 10-0 Warriors walloped the Hawks 66-6 in Fairview in the playoff quarterfinals two weeks ago.

The 8-Man championship game will be played at a neutral site, at Herb Klindt Field on the Rocky Mountain College campus in Billings, Saturday at 1 p.m.

Thompson Falls was ranked No. 8, after rising as high as No. 6 previously, in the final 8-Man power poll.

In Class B, Eureka, which won State titles in 2016 and 2017, advanced to the 2019 championship game by edging past Red Lodge 39-35 in Eureka Saturday. Formerly one of the Blue Hawks' fiercest rivals when Thompson Falls was in the Western B division, the Lions will be playing the Manhattan Tigers on the road for Class B crown Saturday and it promises to be quite a cat-fight.

Manhattan upset previously unbeaten Fairfield 25-19 in Fairfield last week to punch their tickets into the big game. Eureka and Manhattan will enter the fray Saturday with 11-0 records, both wanting to improve to 12-0.

In the other high school classification near and dear to Sanders County sports fans' hearts, the Jordan Mustangs will host the Wibaux Longhorns Saturday with the 6-Man grid title on the line.

Playing in the hotbed of Montana 6-Man football this season in the Eastern division, Jordan, Wibaux and MonDak (the cooperative between Westby, Montana and Grenora, North Dakota) finished first, second and third in the conference before all three advanced all the way to the semifinals in the playoffs.

Jordan is now 11-1 and Wibaux 9-2 after the Mustangs defeated previously undefeated and No. 1 ranked Big Sandy 55-25 last week and the Longhorns lassoed the MonDak Thunder 36-38.

The Hot Springs Savage Heat hosted MonDak in the 6-Man quarterfinals two weeks ago and fell to the Thunder 48-12. The Heat, who finished 10-1, had rose all the way to No. 2 in the final 6-Man power poll prior to the playoffs.

There will also be an inner-division matchup between Eastern teams in the Class A ranks as the No. 1 ranked, 10-0 Miles City Cowboys will host the 9-1 Laurel Locomotives Saturday. The Cowboys bucked the Hamilton Broncs 28-14 and the Locomotives motored past the Dillon Beavers 21-12 in the Class A semifinals last week.

In Class AA, the 11-0 Butte Bulldogs will host the rival Bozeman Hawks, who are 10-1, in that classification's championship Friday under the lights in Butte.

The Bulldogs advanced to the championship game by defeating Billings West 35-6 in one semifinal while Bozeman fought off Missoula Sentinel 28-21 in the other.


Although the football season is not over until it is truly over, the prep volleyball season in Montana did reach its zenith, its season ending in Bozeman last weekend at the All-Class Tournament at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.

In the Class C tourney, the Manhattan Christian Eagles surged back from a loss to Bridger in the undefeated match Friday to win three straight matches, including the last two from Bridger, to claim the 2019 State C title.

Also the Western C champs, the Eagles, and the Charlo Lady Vikings represented our area in Bozeman. Charlo lost in the first round and won a loser-out match before being eliminated on the second day of the tourney.

Showing they belonged among the elite teams in Montana this season, the Hot Springs Savage Heat had defeated Charlo only two weeks ago in the District 14C tourney, and the only two teams the Heat lost to in the subsequent Western C tournament were Manhattan Christian and Charlo.

In Class B, the amazing Huntley Project Lady Red Devils won an incredible 12th State B title without the loss of a match last week, defeating Eastern B rival Joliet in five sets for the championship.

John Hamilton

NOXON LADY RED DEVIL Chelsea Vohs goes up for a shot during recent District 14C tourney action in Noxon.

Western B champion Florence, after losing to Shelby in the first round, fought back to earn another State B trophy by winning third.

The third place team in the Western B tourney, the Thompson Falls Lady Hawks (who did not advance to Bozeman) were one of the few teams from this area to even win a set from Florence, falling to the Falcons in four during that tourney in Eureka last week.

In the Class A ranks, Corvallis ended Billings Central's run of two straight titles by defeating the Rams twice in Bozeman, first in the undefeated match Friday and again in the final championships tilt Saturday. Central had defeated Glendive in the loser-third match earlier Saturday.

In Class AA, Helena Capital won the championship, Helena High School placed second and Great Falls CM Russell took third.


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