Last week marked the beginning of the 2017 high school football season across Montana.
The Flathead Braves officially kicked off the fall campaign with a home game against Butte on Aug. 24. The game was played in Bigfork as the installation of new artificial turf in Legends Stadium remains ongoing. The Glacier Wolfpack’s Aug. 25 game against Billings Senior was also moved and took place in Columbia Falls.
Here’s a season preview for Flathead County teams.
Flathead 27, Butte 19
Flathead quarterback Taylor Morton passed for 180 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair to AJ Jones, and the Braves defeated Butte in the season opener on Aug. 24.
Morton, making his debut as the team’s new starting QB, completed 14 of 20 passes and helped the Braves rally from a 19-7 deficit in the third quarter.
Flathead’s Blake Counts rushed 23 times for 122 yards and caught three passes for 41 yards. Jones finished with three catches and 65 yards, including a six-yard TD catch and a 26-yard score. Jon Baker rushed 12 times for 85 yards, including a 24-yard TD. Austin Demars caught a five-yard TD in the first quarter and finished with 17 yards receiving.
The Braves defense limited Butte to 69 yards rushing and 264 yards of total offense.
Flathead hits the road this week for a Sept. 1 matchup against Helena Capital (1-0).
Bigfork 23, Shelby 19
A well-balanced attack on offense, defense and special teams fueled the Vikings to victory over the Coyotes.
Quarterback Augie Emslie connected with Logan Taylor on a 76-yard touchdown in the second quarter and then found Anders Epperly for a 12-yard TD strike that put Bigfork up 14-7 at halftime.
Shelby scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to build a 19-14 lead before Bigfork rallied. Chase Chappuis tackled a Shelby player in the end zone in the fourth for a safety and then Austin Varner scored a 65-yard punt return that became the deciding score in the game.
Bigfork (1-0) hosts Anaconda (1-0) in a Western B division showdown on Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.
Billings Senior 37, Glacier 21
In a rematch of last year’s Class AA state championship game, the Billings Senior Broncs were able to outlast the Glacier Wolfpack once again.
The Broncs, the reigning state champs, built a 25-0 lead by halftime and held off Glacier’s late rally. Gabe Sulser fueled the Billings attack, scoring three touchdowns and piling up 146 yards receiving to go with 32 yards rushing.
Glacier senior running back Drew Turner scored the Pack’s first points with a 61-yard TD run in the third quarter. He added a four-yard score later in the quarter to cut Senior’s lead to 31-14. Max Morris capped Glacier’s scoring with a 1-yard TD pass from Jackson Pepe.
Turner finished with 201 yards rushing. Morris ended with 60 yards receiving. Glacier quarterback Brady Peiffer completed eight of 16 passes for 77 yards and two interceptions.
Glacier (0-1) hosts Great Falls C.M. Russell (0-1) on Friday, Sept. 1 in Columbia Falls once again. Glacier is playing its first two games in Columbia Falls due to delays in the installation of new artificial turf at Legends Stadium. The turf is expected to be completed in time for Flathead’s first home game on Sept. 15.
Hamilton 47, Whitefish 10
A quick and efficient scoring attack led the Hamilton Broncs past the Whitefish Bulldogs in the season opener.
Hamilton scored five unanswered touchdowns en route to victory. Carver Gilman kicked a 43-yard field goal for Whitefish and Mark Anderson scored on a seven-yard pass from Whitefish quarterback Justin Conklin.
Whitefish (0-1) travels to Frenchtown (1-0) on Friday, Sept. 1.
Columbia Falls at Hamilton
The Columbia Falls Wildcats open the season on the road against the Hamilton Broncs.
The Wildcats, last year’s Class A state runners-up, are reloaded and eager to renew their pursuit of the postseason, led by senior running back Logan Kolodejchuk and a sturdy defense.
Columbia Falls (0-0) plays at Hamilton (1-0) at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 1.