Updated Aug. 28, 7 p.m.
Heavy smoke from wildfires is impacting the start of high school football season in Western Montana.
Bigfork administrators announced Friday afternoon that the Vikings’ home game against Florence was postponed. The game was scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. The game will be played Aug. 31.
Polson’s home game against Browning was postponed Friday. It was rescheduled for Saturday and moved to Butte. The game will be played at Montana Tech at 6 p.m.
Glacier hosted Helena Friday night at 7 p.m.
“They’re on their way. I think we’re good to go,” Glacier Activities Director Mark Dennehy said Friday at 1 p.m.
Flathead played Great Falls C.M. Russell at 4 p.m.
Severe wildfires burning across the region have created smoky conditions and unhealthy air quality. Earlier this week, the DEQ issued air quality alerts to several counties across the state, including Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Glacier and Sanders.
Air quality has slightly improved in the last 24 hours, dropping from “very unhealthy” to “moderate” for the eight-hour cumulative exposure, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
The Columbia Falls game in Corvallis was moved from Friday night to Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Whitefish game in Havre was pushed back from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday due to the closure of Highway 2.
Mission is scheduled to play in Eureka at 7 p.m.
Missoula Hellgate moved its season-opener to Bozeman on Friday.
Missoula Loyola’s game against Libby on Friday night was canceled. The game between Arlee and Victor was postponed to Aug. 31.
The University of Montana is slated to host North Dakota State University in the college football home opener in Missoula on Saturday.
The air quality in Missoula was rated “very unhealthy” Friday due to smoke from forest fires in the region. Under University of Montana’s athletic practice policy, student athletes would be restricted to activities that do not increase their breathing rate.
But UM officials say it would be really difficult to cancel Montana’s season-opening football game against top-ranked and four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State University. It is scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and be carried on ESPN.
Montana’s head trainer J.C. Weida says athletic directors from both teams will meet on Saturday and decide what to do if the air quality is still “very unhealthy.”
Earlier this week, associate athletic director Chuck Maes told the Missoulian the air quality would have to be “really, really, really bad for us to shut it down.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.