Week 1 of the high school football season is in the books, but not without drama.
Defending champion Missoula Sentinel still looks like the team to beat in Class AA, at least for now.
Whitefish looks like it could make some noise in the Western A, as the Bulldogs went on the road to open the season and came away with an impressive victory.
It was a light slate for the smaller classifications in the state, but Huntley Project and Eureka survived close calls in Class B.
Joliet flexed its muscle in a battle of top teams in 8-Man, while White Sulphur Springs and Broadview-Lavina posted big wins in 6-Man to open the year.
The return of football is here, though it begins in full force in September.
- Missoula Sentinel survived a rematch of the 2020 State AA title game over the weekend, defeating Billings West 22-19 inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The Spartans appear to be the favorites in the Western AA once again, and at least for now have established themselves as the state's top team. West lost senior standout Caden Dowler to an ankle injury, but Dowler will be back later this season. Something tells me that's not the last time we'll see Sentinel and West meet up this season.
- Whitefish could be a problem in the Western A this year. The Bulldogs went into Dillon last Friday night and came away with a thrilling 28-26 victory. For a team with playoff hopes, Friday's win over Dillon was a monumental step for Whitefish, even though it's only the season opener. Whitefish won't have long to celebrate, as the Bulldogs host Frenchtown in Week 2.
- Both Huntley Project and Eureka got in the win column in Week 1, though it wasn't always pretty. Project went on the road and held off Big Timber's fourth quarter rally for a 14-12 win, while Eureka defeated Bonner's Ferry (Idaho) 14-13. Both Eureka and Project figure to be in the hunt for regular season conference titles this season and non-conference victories to open the season are a welcome sign.
- Joliet has moved into the top spot in the MontanaSports.com power rankings. The J-Hawks went on the road in Week 1 and picked up a come-from-behind victory over previously-No. 1 Shelby, 36-20. Joliet has topped Shelby in back-to-back seasons, as the J-Hawks have high expectations in 2021. After finishing runner-up in the 8-Man South last year, Joliet looks like it has all the tools to make the leap this fall.
- People in the 6-Man community knew White Sulphur Springs would be good again in 2021. The Hornets lived up to that in Week 1, defeating Big Sandy 46-33 in a highly-anticipated season opener for both sides. Don't be surprised if White Sulphur Springs runs through the regular season unbeaten. One team that could surprise a few in 6-Man this season is Broadview-Lavina. The Pirates went on the road and thumped Wibaux to open the year, 42-0. Broadview-Lavina will be in the hunt in the 6-Man South this season as the Pirates search for back-to-back 6-Man playoff appearances.