The Bigfork football team is no stranger to long road trips.
The Vikings have played six away games to just four home games. That experience came in handy last weekend, when Bigfork crossed the state on a yellow bus and knocked off then-unbeaten Roundup 43-18 in the Class B quarterfinals.
“These guys know how to travel well ... know how to get off the bus and compete,” Bigfork coach Todd Emslie said.
“We’ve been road warriors all year.”
Now, the Vikings (9-1) hit the road again to take on Fairfield (10-0) in Class B semifinal action today at 1 p.m.
Fairfield’s defense has been outstanding all year, shutting out six opponents and allowing just 30 total points. The Eagles also defeated Missoula Loyola, the top-ranked team in Western B, 38-6 in Missoula on Sept. 7.
“They have a coaching staff that’s second-to-none,” Emslie said.
Quarterback and free safety Ryder Meyer is the Eagles’ main threat. Meyer — committed to play football for the University of Montana next season — had an 80-yard touchdown run and threw two touchdown passes in Fairfield’s 34-6 win over Manhattan last week.
But Bigfork has plenty of weapons of its own.
Senior Randy Stultz is one of Bigfork’s star athletes on both offense and defense. He had four touchdown runs and 111 yards rushing in last week’s quarterfinal victory, giving him 20 rushing touchdowns and 998 yards rushing on the season.
Emslie said Bigfork’s offensive and defensive lines are picking things up at the right time.
“They just keep coming, they wear you down,” he said.
“He’d [Stultz] be the first to tell you the line’s been doing great things all year.”
Last week, the defensive line shut down Roundup’s standout quarterback Brody Grebe. Grebe was held to just 69 yards rushing on 25 carries, and only completed 11 of 21 passes for 132 yards.
The Vikings hope for a similar result against Fairfield’s Meyer.
The winner takes on the winner of Loyola vs. Big Timber in the Class B championship game.
Nearly a year after Columbia Falls defeated Hamilton to win the school’s first state football title, the Wildcats and Broncs will square off again in the semifinals today at 1 p.m. at Satterthwaite Field.
The Wildcats took down the Broncs 26-14 in the 2017 championship game. But in the rematch on Aug. 31, the Wildcats blew a 24-14 halftime lead and fell 35-24.
Columbia Falls (8-1) is undefeated since that loss while Hamilton remains unbeaten at 10-0.
The Broncs crushed Miles City 53-20 in last week’s quarterfinal while the Wildcats hung on to beat Lewistown 23-22.
The Wildcats will have to contain quarterback Carson Rostad and receiver Camron Rothie. They connected for four touchdowns in the early-season win over Columbia Falls.
It was the start of an electric season for the duo. Rostad has thrown for 2,388 yards, 37 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Rothie is his favorite target, with 70 receptions for 1,064 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is averaging just over 118 receiving yards per game and 15.2 yards per reception.
Rostad is also a threat on the ground. He is the Broncs’ leading rusher, with 573 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 carries.
Overall, Hamilton’s offense is averaging 44.3 points per game. Its season low was the 34 it managed against the Wildcats.
Senior running back Colten McPhee is the Wildcats’ biggest offensive threat. In last week’s quarterfinal win, he gained 230 yards and had a critical 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He broke the Columbia Falls single-season rushing record in the process and has 1,807 yards on the season.
Quarterback Drew Morgan had a rough outing against Lewistown, going 8-for-15 for 65 yards and a bad interception. But on the season he’s thrown for 1,327 yards on 136 attempts for a 64 percent completion rate. He has 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The Wildcats’ offense will need to be clicking in a game that could easily turn into a shootout.
The winner will meet Billings Central (11-0) next week in the Class A championship game. Central defeated Laurel 28-7 in the other semifinal Friday night.