HUNTLEY — Class B football across Montana will look a lot different next fall.
Last week, the Montana High School Association approved a realignment that removes 11 schools from Class B. Libby and Ronan will move up to Class A. Choteau, Forsyth, Joliet, Lame Deer, Lodge Grass, Rocky Boy, St. Ignatius, St. Labre and Troy move down to Class C to play 8-man football — although those schools will be in Class B for all other sports.
Activities directors at both Shepherd and Huntley Project schools expressed concern about some of the changes, which could increase travel time and expense. Huntley and Shepherd will go into the East division with Baker, Colstrip, Poplar, Roundup and Wolf Point. Conferences have not been set in those divisions.
“I think by and large they have the best interests” of Class B and Class C schools in mind, said Jeff Armstong, Shepherd’s athletic and activity director. Baker is already a long trip, and adding Poplar and Wolf Point will stretch the district’s
travel budget, he said, and complicate the district’s route busing system, since the Department of Transportation limits the number of hours a bus driver can put in during a 24-hour period.
“It adds up,” he said, “It adds to our overall costs,” to go to Wolf Point or Poplar, and there isn’t room in the district budget for an overnight stay in either town.
At first glance, Shepherd and Huntley lose rival opponent Forsyth, since no Class C schools field 11-man teams.
But for schools with dwindling enrollment, moving to Class C is a good fit, Armstrong said.
“When you field 13-14 kids,” he said. “You can not play 11-man football.”
Custer/Hysham will remain in Class C 6-man. State 6-man champion Hot Springs and Box Elder will move up to 8-man,