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With AA playoffs looming, what's at stake on Friday night?

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Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 12:08:03-04

(Editor's note: A previous version of this story was created with incorrect standings. The standings were corrected and the change is reflected in the updated article.)

With the AA football regular season coming to a close on Friday night, playoff position is at stake, but there are plenty of scenarios that could unfold on Friday night.

For example, in the Western AA, Helena could finish the year in second place with a first-round bye or fifth place and lose their chance to host a home playoff game this year.

To boil things down, in the Western AA there are four games to end the season:

1W) Sentinel (5-0, 7-0) vs. 2W) Butte (5-1, 7-1)
3W) Helena High (4-2, 6-2) vs. 4W) Helena Capital (4-2, 5-3)
5W) Kalispell Glacier (3-3, 5-3) vs. 6W) Missoula Hellgate (1-4, 2-5)
7W) Missoula Big Sky (1-5, 2-6) vs. 8W) Kalispell Flathead (0-6, 0-8)

Here are some of the potential scenarios that could change the way the playoffs iron out in the Western AA.

SCENARIOS:

Assuming Sentinel beats Butte, Glacier beats Hellgate, and Big Sky beats Flathead: If Helena Capital beats Helena High, they would earn the two-seed in the Western AA because they own the tiebreaker against Butte and Helena High would get fourth place and still earn a first-round home playoff game. Missoula Hellgate would also fall out of the top-6 and Missoula Big Sky would make it into the playoffs with a better record.

Assuming Sentinel beats Butte, Glacier beats Hellgate, and Big Sky beats Flathead: If Helena High beats Helena Capital, the Bengals would find themselves in the No. 3 spot in the Western AA because Butte owns the tie-breaker against them. However, Capital would fall to fifth place and lose their opportunity at a home playoff game, much less a first-round bye, because Glacier owns the tie-breaker against them. Sentinel would remain in first place, Butte would stay in second because of their tiebreaker win over Helena High. Missoula Hellgate would also fall out of the top-6 and Missoula Big Sky would make it into the playoffs with a better record.

Assuming Butte beats Sentinel, Glacier beats Hellgate, and Big Sky beats Flathead: If this were to happen, Butte would get first place, Sentinel would get second win the Western AA and both would receive first-round byes. The first and second scenarios would still apply, except Capital would get third place if beat Helena High, because Sentinel would have a better record. Missoula Hellgate would also fall out of the top-6 and Missoula Big Sky would make it into the playoffs with a better record.

Assuming Butte beats Sentinel, Hellgate beats Glacier, Flathead beats Big Sky: If Friday is the night for upsets it would lead to the most straightforward explanation of the Western AA's side of the bracket. Assuming these events take place, Butte would get first, Sentinel would get second, Helena High and Helena Capital would battle it out for third and fourth, Glacier would take fifth, and Hellgate would remain in 6th place.

In the Eastern AA, things are a bit more straight-forward, kind of. Let’s look at the games slated for this week and some scenarios.

1E) Billings West (6-0, 7-1) vs. 2E) Bozeman (5-1, 5-3)
3E) Great Falls CMR (4-2, 5-3) vs. 4E) Great Falls High (4-2, 4-4)
5E) Billings Senior (3-3, 4-4) vs. 7E) Belgrade (1-5, 1-7)
6E) Bozeman Gallatin (1-5, 3-5) vs. 8E) Billings Skyview (0-6, 1-7)

Scenarios:

Assuming West beats Bozeman, Senior beats Belgrade, and Gallatin beats Skyview: If this scenario were to occur, it would provide a relatively straight forward approach for the Eastern AA into the playoffs. Billings West would get the first seed, Bozeman second-seed (because they own the tie-breaker over CMR and Great Falls High). Great Falls High and Great Falls CMR would battle it out for the third and fourth-seed, and earn home play off spots. Senior would come out fifth, Gallatin would round out the field in sixth.

Assuming Bozeman beats West, Senior beats Belgrade, and Gallatin beats Skyview: The only change to the Eastern AA standings would be up top with Bozeman usurping the top spot, and West falling to second place.

Note: These are just some of the scenarios that could take place in the AA. If you'd like to know how another one would play out, email sam.hoyle@ktvh.com.