Football Roundup: Glacier, Columbia Falls Roll into State Semifinals

Eureka, Hot Springs to host semifinal games as high school season reaches final two weeks

By Dillon Tabish
Trevor Paro (3) hits a sign in the locker room before the game. Hot Springs defeated North Star 66-0 on Oct. 29, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Glacier 35, Missoula Sentinel 14

Tadan Gilman scored three touchdowns, Drew Turner rushed for 256 yards and another two scores, and the Wolfpack rolled past the Spartans in the first round of the Class AA playoffs in Kalispell.

Glacier (10-1) will host Helena (8-3) in a semifinal matchup on Friday night. This is the sixth year in a row that Glacier has advanced to the state semifinals. Billings Senior (11-0) hosts Helena Capital (7-4) in the other playoff game.

Against Sentinel, Turner rushed 21 times for a school-record 256 yards, surpassing the previous best mark of 218 set by Thomas Trefney a year ago. For the season, Turner has tallied 1,361 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns.

Gilman rushed in two scores and connected with Andrew Durado for an 8-yard TD strike. The senior signal caller finished 10-for-19 for 77 yards passing and 42 yards rushing. Patrick O’Connell finished with three catches for 23 yards, and Scout Willcut had three catches for 22 yards. The offense wracked up 35 first downs and doubled the Spartans in time of possession at 30:11 to 14:35. The Glacier defense held Sentinel to 14 first downs.

Helena defeated Bozeman 28-21 and Helena Capital beat Billings West 23-13 in the first round.

Columbia Falls 35, Sidney 20

Senior quarterback Dakota Bridwell completed 24 of 36 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats past the top-ranked Eagles in the Class A quarterfinals in Sidney.

Columbia Falls (9-1) will travel to Belgrade to play the Panthers (7-2) in the semifinal round. With a win, Columbia Falls would host the state championship game on Nov. 18 or Nov. 19. It would mark only the second time the team has played in the title game. The one and only appearance occurred in 1970, when Havre defeated the Wildcats 34-18.

Against Sidney, Bridwell broke the all-class state record for TD passes in a season with 42, surpassing Brady McChesney’s mark of 41 set for Glacier in 2013, according to the Montana High School Association. Bridwell has thrown for 3,292 yards and completed over 62 percent of his passes with only five interceptions.

Braxton Reiten caught both of Bridwell’s passes and increased his season total to 17. Trey Gates added a TD catch from Wyatt Green.

Sidney led 12-0 in the first quarter before Columbia Falls erupted, scoring 28 straight points in the second and third quarters.

Billings Central 35, Polson 34

In a back-and-forth Class A playoff game in Polson, the Rams rushed for 403 yards and held off a late Pirate rally. Tanner Wilson wrapped up his stellar prep career at Polson (7-2) with 188 yards rushing and 195 yards passing. The future Montana Grizzly rushed for three TDs and passed for another pair, connecting with Haden Smith and Cadis Chowning.

Billings Central will host Dillon in the semifinals. Dillon defeated Laurel 22-7.

Eureka 43, Shelby 8

The Lions keep roaring.

Garrett Graves threw for 121 yards and combined for four touchdowns to lead Eureka past Shelby in the quarterfinals of the Class B playoffs.

Eureka will host Whitehall in the semifinal round on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. If the Lions win, they will travel to play the winner of Missoula Loyola and Fairfield in the state championship. The one and only time Eureka has played for the championship was in 1990, when Cut Bank won 28-8. Saturday’s semifinal game will be the first that Eureka has hosted since 1990. The last time Eureka played in the semifinals was in 2008, when the Lions lost to Huntley Project 53-6.

Against Shelby, Matt Anderson rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown, and Cannan Smith rushed for 72 yards and another score. James Dunn caught two passes for 15 yards and two TDs. The Lions piled up 403 yards of offense and limited Shelby to 189.

In other playoff action, Loyola defeated Colstrip 50-35 and Fairfield defeated Manhattan 38-30. Whitehall beat Ronan 40-26.

Hot Springs 89, Bainville 19

Kane Lawson rushed for 201 yards and seven touchdowns, and Trevor Paro added three more scores to his all-time record as the Savage Heat walloped Bainville in the quarterfinal round of the Class C six-man playoffs in Hot Springs.

Hot Springs (11-0) will host Valier in the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Heat erupted for 46 points in the first quarter, led by Lawson, who tallied 201 yards on only 11 carries. Paro rushed six times for 45 yards and caught two passes for 101 yards. He hiked his career total to 126 TDs, most in Montana history.

Quarterback Marco Degel passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns, including a 38-yard strike to Blaine Carr. Luke Waterbury added a 20-yard TD run.

With a win against Valier, Hot Springs would play in the state championship against the winner of MonDak (Westby-Grenora) and Bridger. If MonDak wins, they would host the state championship in Grenora, North Dakota, a 750-mile trek from Hot Springs. If Bridger wins, Hot Springs would host. The Savage Heat are chasing their second state championship. The team won its first title in 2012.

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