It is time for high school playoff football here in Montana. Let’s look at all the AA matchups and what the Great Falls High - Butte High matchup has to offer.

First a look at the schedule for tomorrow night:

Butte High (5W) @ Great Falls High (4E)
Missoula Big Sky (6W) @ Bozeman Gallatin (4E)
Great Falls CMR (6E) @ Missoula Sentinel (3W)
Billings Senior (5E) @ Kalispell Glacier (4W)

Helena Capital (1W), Helena High (2W), Bozeman (1E), and Billings West (2E) all have first-round byes.

This playoff pairing will be the 113th meeting between the Bulldogs and the Bison, the overall record slightly favors Butte with 57 wins to 49 losses, and they have tied 6 times going back to their first meeting in 1904. The two schools have met 16 times in the post season, 10 of those meetings for the State Championship. The post season record heavily favoring Butte High, with 10 wins, 4 losses and 2 ties in the Playoffs. One of the playoff ties was the 1911 chipper, where they ended with a 5-5 tie, and the other tie was in the 1927 playoffs when neither team could get on the scoreboard, and it ended 0-0.

Butte High (4-5) as the #5 Seed in the West, will start their playoff run on the road at #4 Great Fall High (6-3). These two did play a non-conference game on Sept 2nd of this year, with the Bison coming out on top 41-17.

In that game, the Dogs were up 10-0 at the end of the first, and then Rafe Longin got rolling. He jump-started the Bison with a kickoff returned for a touchdown, he also had a long interception return, and added 3 rushing touchdowns. Reed Harris, the Boston College commit, ended the night with a pair of touchdown receptions, of 38 and 88 yards.

Butte High had some good numbers in that game. They ran 74 offensive plays and had 17 first downs. Unfortunately, the number in the penalty column was high as well, with 14 flags for 119 yards. If you get rid of the penalties and remove the big plays from the equation, this will be a much different game.

Jace Stenson ended the first meeting throwing for 261 yards, 1 Touchdown, and 1 interception. Cameron Gurnsey had a monster of a game, finishing with 129 yards on 11 receptions. Rueso Batterman also went over the century mark in reception yards with 107 yards on 6 catches.

For Butte High, the duo of Jace Stenson and Cameron Gurnsey have both had outstanding seasons. Stenson has thrown for 2355 yards (2nd in the AA) on 181 completions. He has tallied 21 touchdowns against 9 interceptions. He is also the Bulldogs leading rusher with 563 yards on 124 carries, he has broken the goal line 6 times for rushing touchdowns.

Gurnsey leads an extremely talented receiving group. Cameron enters the playoffs with 668 yards and 4 touchdowns, on 43 catches.  The freshmen are next. First, Hudson Luedtke sits with 456 yards and 6 touchdowns on 33 catches, and Cayde Stajcar has amassed 371 yards, and 2 touchdowns on 26 catches. Right there as well is Rueso Battermann who has 2 touchdowns and 306 yards coming on 25 receptions.

The run game will look to find more traction against Great Falls this time through, in the first meeting the Dogs averaged under 2 yards per carry. Trey Hansen has been the main back for the Dogs this year, with 340 yards on 107 carries, Trey has 9 rushing touchdowns so far this season and would love to add to that total tomorrow.

The Bison will try to get the ball into their playmaker’s hands. Both Rafe Longin and Reed Harris are guys that can change a game quickly. Longin will take the bulk of the rushing attempts for Great Falls, he has packed the rock 145 times for 696 yards and 7 touchdowns. Reed Harris enters the game with a stat you don’t see every day, coming into Friday’s game he has 34 carries AND 34 receptions on the year. Harris has stacked up 1002 all-purpose yards, 539 through the air, 307 on the ground, and the remaining 140ish on special teams. Other receivers to watch are Mason Laplante with 14 catches and 2 touchdowns, and Gatlin Sutherland with 18 catches

The Bison have had a couple of different players take snaps at center, but the main quarterback will be Ashton Platt. Platt has thrown for 855 yards, averaging 122 a game.

Big plays are going to make or break this game. Both teams have 3 players each that have plays over 60 yards this season. (A couple of them with multiple 60+ yard plays) So both teams are going to want to hit that big momentum-swinging shot, and both are preparing to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The winner of this game will go on the road next week to take on Helena Capital. With both Helena school hosting in the second round, no date or times have been announced for next week.

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