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Central, Baker and Wibaux fall in title games
Bozeman (Class AA), Dillon (A), Missoula Loyola (B), Ennis (C) and Geraldine-Highwood (C 6-Man) claimed state football championships this past weekend.
All five schools were ranked number one in the state in their respective classes for much of the season, including the final polls before the playoffs.
Bozeman held off Kalispell Glacier 24-14 on Friday night, while Dillon beat Billings Central 25-13, Missoula Loyola beat Baker 30-13, Ennis won a shootout over Wibaux 68-56 and Geraldine-Highwood topped rival Stanford-Geyser-Denton 50-18 on Saturday.
Missoula Loyola was the only repeat winner on the weekend.
Dillon last won the state championship in 2011 and Bozeman won in 2010.
This was the first state championship for the Geraldine-Highwood co-op. Highwood beat Geraldine 42-30 in 2008, the last year before they began their co-op.
Ennis won their first title since 1982, when they also beat Wibaux.
Bozeman 24, Glacier 14
The Bozeman Hawks completed their second undefeated season in four years with a 24-14 win on a chilly Friday night in Bozeman.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawks broke the drought with three straight scores in the second quarter.
Glacier answered with a 72-yard pass just before halftime to cut it to 21-7.
Bozeman totaled 389 yards of offense, led by senior quarterback Will Weyer, who threw for 235 yards and two scores. Junior running back Cordell Appel had 142 yards and a touchdown running the ball.
Dillon 25, Central 13
Dillon quarterback J.D. Ferris had a hand in all four touchdowns for the Beavers as they built a 25-0 lead and cruised to the state championship.
Ferris completed 10 of 13 passes for 245 yards, including scoring strikes of 71 yards to Mick Paffhausen and 29 yards to M.J. Simkins. Ferris also had 73 yards on the ground, including touchdown runs of 38 and two yards.
Sean Ward scored twice late in the game for the Rams, but it was too little, too late.
Central star running back Holden Ryan rushed for 94 yards and had 80 yards receiving, but was held out of the end zone by Dillon for the second time this season.
The Beavers have now won six state championships, all coming since 2000. The Beavers and Rams have played for the Class A title each of the last three seasons.
Loyola 30, Baker 13
The Baker Spartans started strong and finished strong, but Missoula Loyola owned the middle.
The Spartans got on the board first on a 27-yard Seth Barkley touchdown run. But their strong running game was bottled up from there.
Missoula Loyola rattled off 30 unanswered points to take control of the game.
Danner Linhardt had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the win for Loyola.
Baker senior Mason Melby scored late in the fourth quarter. He broke off a 46-yard run to the two-yard line, but lost his helmet. Head Coach Dave Breitbach chose to take a knee on the next play - Melby had to leave the field for one play for losing his helmet - and Melby returned to punch it in from the two.
Baker finished with 284 yards on the ground, but rushed for just 36 in the second half before Melby broke off his big run.
Jonathan Wiseman finished with 94 yards rushing on 12 carries to lead Baker.
Loyola finished with 327 yards of total offense, led by quarterabck Matt McHugh, who was 9 of 16 for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Madsen led the ground game with 77 yards.
Ennis 68, Wibaux 56
Ennis and Wibaux had been ranked number one and two all season in Class C, and those two teams put on quite a show on Saturday in Ennis.
Ennis took control early, leading 34-20 at halftime, and built their lead to 40-20 early in the third quarter.
But then Wibaux made its comeback bid.
Late in the fourth, Jacob Bakken rushed in for a one-yard score for Wibaux and the Longhorns recovered the onside kick.
Two plays later, Bakken connected with Conner Leach for a 39-yard touchdown strike that cut the Ennis lead to 60-56.
The Longhorns, however, were unable to corral another onside kick attempt and Ennis scored late to finish off the win.
Ennis junior Walker McKitrick had a phenomenal day. He had a hand in all 10 touchdowns for the Mustangs and finished with 147 yards rushing and 354 yards passing. Chad Johnerson hauled in eight catches for 219 yards and three scores.
Bakken had a hand in six touchdowns, four on the ground and two throwing. He finished with 71 yards rushing and 225 yards passing. Chase Bertelsen rushed for 138 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown run.
Geraldine-Highwood 50, Stan-Geyser-Denton 18
Geraldine-Highwood jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in beating their Northern C rivals.
Geraldine-Highwood quarterback Darren Malek had touchdown passes of nine, 41 and 19 yards.
Jake Malek scored on two runs and Wyatt McKinlay hauled in two touchdown passes.
Stanford-Geyser-Denton finished 10-2, with both of their losses to undefeated Geraldine-Highwood.