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Helena High Football Is Back

HHS Football Reaches State Final for the First Time in Seven Years

Marcus Roberts, Head Writer

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After years of disappointment, Helena High Football returns to its playoff football glory days. The Bengals ended the season with a 9-3 record including 7-2 in the region with an overall win percentage of .750. Near the beginning of the season, Helena beat C.M. Russell in a thrilling one-point victory. Then, they were heavily outmatched for the defending AA State champion team, losing by 24 points. “At that point I really think we went full throttle,” Carl Soltis, a senior linebacker, says. And that they did. Helena would only lose one game from then to the start of the playoffs. They dominated teams such as Missoula Hellgate, Bozeman, Billings Skyview, and Missoula Sentinel. In that run, their average margin of victory was a convincing 30.3 points.

The Bengals kept their anger and intensity into the AA playoffs, beating six-seeded Billings West by a score of 42-7 in the blistering cold. That same night, the Bengal’s would have their eyes fixed on the outcomes of the other games. Helena’s next opponent, depending on the winner of all three games, would most likely be second-seeded Big Sky. However, their opponent, Missoula Sentinel, cooked them 26-6. Then, after Billings Senior beat Bozeman 35-25, another upset happened. Fifth-seeded Capital high would beat the same team that beat Helena by a single point in the regular season, Flathead. That meant that Helena would face off against Capital in the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

“Crosstown playoffs was gritty, and emotional,” exclaimed senior Jackson Keller. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with so many penalties.” In a game that ended with 145 total penalty yards and two player ejections, Junior cornerback Cooper Biegler explained how he and his team kept their composure against the Bruins. “Throughout the playoffs you just must play like it’s just another game,” Biegler says. “There were times against [Billings] West and Capital where we gave up a big play, but you just have to have that next play mentality.” They did just that. Helena won the game 30-7 and would advance to the finals to play undefeated Billings Senior once again.

The rematch under the lights began on the 17th of November, and Billings Senior came out hot. They scored two touchdowns in the opening quarter, but momentum switched. Helena would also score two touchdowns in the next quarter. However, each of their two-point conversions came up short, and they trailed 12-14 at halftime. From then on, the Broncs’ defense would not allow another point to be scored. Billings won the state title, 21-12.

Although they didn’t win it all this year, Junior center Blake Nichols is confident that next year the team will win its first ever state championship. “I think we really have a lot of young talent and can be a serious threat”, Blake said. “Obviously Billings Senior is the team to beat,” he adds, “they haven’t lost in about two years but we held them to a close state final game this year so who really knows what could happen in next year’s playoffs.” Cooper Biegler has been certain that they will secure another state final appearance for quite a while. “I’m confident in seeing us in the championship again next season and I’ve known it since my freshman year. We have a lot of starters coming back. So as a team we are going to go out there and try to play good enough to be that championship team we are looking to be.” For students, teachers, and any other supporters, Helena High Bengals football can be something to look forward to for years to come.

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