PLAYOFF TIME!...Livingston vs. Cowboys.
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Posted by Shu (+1791) 10 years ago
It's playoff time, so I'll go ahead and get this started!

First, to Brian; you commented on the vs. Sidney thread that the Cowboys would be in a better position in the playoff bracket as the number 3 seed from the East than they would as the 2 seed...based on the way the playoffs have shaped-up, I couldn't agree with you more!

Laurel, as the #2 seed, appears to have an easy game to start with at home against a 4-4 Lewistown team which, just last night, barely beat a Belgrade team that both Laurel and Miles City (among others) beat handily in the regular season this year. Should the Locos win THAT game, however, I won't envy them after that...The Dillon team they'll have to face next has flat-out destroyed every team they've faced this year. No close games at all. Among Dillons' victims are the Eastern A Champ, Billings Central, whom they beat 40-17 early in the season. I'm agreeing with Brian on another point that Dillon, indeed, appears to be the team destined to be the state champs this year...of course, the games have to actually be PLAYED before we know for sure, but they do look impressive.

Dillon has outscored their opponents 350-39 this year; that's an average score of 44-5 and they have shut-out 4 opponents. I don't envy ANY team that has to play the Beavers this year.

But enough of that! Let's get ready for the Cowboys to start their playoffs! The Cowboys are on the road for round 1 to take-on a Livingston team which is 4-3 (unless the Gazette scores are missing a game) and, just last night, The Rangers lost 54-28 to a Havre team the Cowboys beat on the road handily this year (even Sidney beat Havre this year, and the Eagles didn't even make the playoffs!).

So, to the stats guru, Brian - what's the front page on Livingston beyond what I've said here? We know this team is not used to winning much and is in the playoffs for the first time in forever...seems to be a favorable draw for the Cowboys, indeed!

...here's a thought: wouldn't that suck for Billings Central if they were to make it all the way to the State Championship game yet again only to lose to Dillon in that game if it were to pan-out that way?...I don't know if the brackets are set up for that to happen but if it did, that would be, like, 4 championship games in a row the Rams would make it to only to lose. Sigh...time will tell.

Cowboys, you've already made us proud by having a great season in spite of your youth...but go ahead and win a couple more! GO GET 'EM BOYS!
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Shu - it's not just the scoring margin that makes Dillon dangerous. They are the most balanced team in the state. There isn't anything that they don't do at a very high level.

Dillon and Central are on opposite sides of the bracket. They could meet in the championship game. If they do, it would be played in Dillon.

The most impressive Class A teams I have seen over the last 30 years are the 1999 Laurel Locomotives, the 2004 Havre Blue Ponies and the 2007 Billings Central Rams (those are the only three teams I believe would have beaten the 1994 Cowboys). Dillon is right there with them.

Livingston has a good coach (Ryan Buckley, who the best quarterback Glendive has produced in a very long time) and a very good quarterback in Landon Willyerd. He's a three-year starter, I believe. According to the stats compiled by www.ihigh.com, he was leading Class A with 1,812 passing yards heading into Friday's game against Havre. He's also been credited with 16 passing touchdowns and 8 rushing TDs. He's scored at least once on an interception return. I'll try to get more info on the team from Coach Buckley, but Willyerd is definitely their stud.

[This message has been edited by Brian A. Reed (10/22/2011)]
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Posted by JCF (+389) 10 years ago
Here is my predictions on the brackets:

1st round:

Laurel beats Lewistown
Libby beats Hamilton
Whitefish beats Stevensville
Miles City beats Livingston

quarterfinals:

Dillon beats Laurel
Havre beats Libby
Billings Central beats Whitefish
Miles City beats Polson

Semis:

Dillon beats Havre
Billings Central beats Miles City

Chipper:

Dillon beats Billings Central

____

I think the only upset I predicted, according to the rankings, is the Cowboys over Polson (who plays in the very weak NW) and Whitefish over Stevi. Besides Dillon, the SW is pretty weak too.

Should be a great playoffs. Dillon is home all the way, so in addition to them being tough, they don't have to travel. Definitely the odds on favorites, but you never know what will happen with high school football......
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Filched from the MC-Hardin game thread:

My knee-jerk preliminary predictions for the first round:

MC 35, Livingston 20
Stevensville 42, Whitefish 18
Hamilton 20, Libby 17
Laurel 40, Lewistown 6


Other than Dillon, the non-Eastern 'A' team that impresses me the most is Stevensville. I don't think Whitefish will come close to being able to match them score-for-score.

I'll wait to post my predictions for the quarter- and semifinal rounds until the appropriate time, but I don't see anyone beating Dillon. Frankly, barring an injury to J.T. Linder, I can't picture anyone even challenging Dillon.
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Posted by JCF (+389) 10 years ago
We agree on that Brian. Could be a running clock in the state title game......
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Some decent insight on Livingston's defense against a quality opponent:

From http://www.havredailynews...80437.html

Havre has one of the best offenses in the state, especially with Justin Jensen at quarterback (he didn't play when Miles City beat the Blue Ponies earlier this season). According to the article, Havre had 573 yards of total offense (and had a 250-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver).
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Here are some tidbits about the Cowboys' first-round playoff opponent, the Livingston Rangers:

1.) This is Livingston's first trip to the playoffs since ... honestly, I don't know. And according to the people I've talked to in Livingston, not many people there remember, either. What I do know is the Rangers were the Class A state champions in 1975. I don't believe they reached the postseason between 1976-79, but I am absolutely certain that they are the only current Class A team that, prior to this season, had not qualified for the playoffs since 1980. Yes, even Browning (1989) made the playoffs before Livingston.

2.) The Rangers are 5-4 this season. Their last winning season was in 1981, when they went 5-3. Only one team from each division (East and West) qualified for the postseason that year.

3.) Livingston was Miles City's divisional rival from 1980-85. The Rangers moved to the Central 'A' conference in 1986. The Cowboys won all but one of their meetings during that span, winning their five games by an average score of 39-5. The Rangers beat the Cowboys, 29-18 in 1981 to hand Miles City its only loss of its first championship season under Ed Rohloff. The Cowboys didn't play the Rangers from 1986-99. Over their last six non-conference meetings, the Cowboys have been every bit as dominant against the Rangers as they had been before. Here is the recent series:

2000 - MC 44, Livingston 0
2001 - MC 28, Livingston 6
2005 - MC 49, Livingston 6
2007 - MC 26, Livingston 0
2008 - MC 47, Livingston 0
2009 - MC 50, Livingston 0

The teams did not play each other from 2002-04 or in 2006.

4.) Livingston's 2011 schedule:

vs. Hardin (5-3) - L, 20-40
vs. Dillon (8-0) - L, 39-0
at Glendive (1-8) - W, 48-6
at Corvallis (3-5) - L, 34-26
vs. Browning (0-8) - W, 27-0
vs. Columbia Falls (2-6) - W, 19-14
at Belgrade (1-8) - W, 41-14
vs. Lewistown (4-4) - W, 36-21
at Havre (6-3) - L, 54-28

In looking at their schedule, one might be compelled to ask ...

5.) ... how good has Livingston been this season? It depends on the opponent. While this has been a banner year by the Rangers' standards, they have not been what one might call dominant. They have been the hammer against bad teams, the nail against good ones and somewhere in between against mediocre competition. Livingston has faced three teams with winning records in 2011 and has lost all three of them by a combined 48-133 margin. Against teams with more than one win, they're 2-1 with a 81-69 scoring margin. When facing winless or one-win teams, the Rangers are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 116-20.

6.) In a manner of speaking, the Rangers are very balanced offensively, having rushed the ball 252 times for 996 yards and 15 scores and passed the ball 264 times for 1,964 yards and 17 touchdowns. Livingston is averaging 328.9 yards of total offense per game.

7.) But the even-handed playcalling obscures the fact that Landon Willyerd runs the show. In addition to having an outstanding season passing the ball (145-259-1,944-17-10), he is also the team's leading rusher by a wide margin. He has 415 yards and 10 touchdowns on 95 carries. The second-leading rusher (Brandon Toney) has rushed for 78-206-2. Willyerd spreads the ball around, having four receivers with 20+ catches. The main target is senior Braeden Greathouse, who has 55 receptions for 828 yards and 9 scores. Other threats are Daniel Fowlie (29-330-2), Brandon Ramirez (24-399-4) and Austin Carroll (22-271-2). Ramirez is also a dangerous return man (22-263-0 PR, 12-293-1 KR).

8.) Defensively, the Rangers are solid, if not stellar. They were shredded by Dillon and Havre, which have two of the best offenses in the state. Livingston is allowing 265.1 yards per game (149.7 rushing, 115.4 passing).

More to come ...
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Posted by jw (+118) 10 years ago
Brandon Toney has a pretty bad sprain right now and has been on crutches all week. They still don't know if he will play on Saturday.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
So ... even more Willyerd.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
One playoff game down: Stevi 52, Whitefish 19. I figured Stevensville would win, but not by 33 points. Wow.
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Posted by Patrick Petroff (+65) 10 years ago
According to the BOZEMAN CHRONICLE this morning this is Livingston's first trip to the Class A playoffs since that 1975 championship season. Good luck Cowboys!
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supporter
Posted by Colette Butcher (+400) 10 years ago
End of the 1st quarter. 30-0 Cowboys!!
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Posted by Herbie (+111) 10 years ago
OMG is the play by play terrible, wish he would say names instead of numbers! You can tell he never looked over the line up before the game.
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Posted by Herbie (+111) 10 years ago
I'll take it back, he has gotten better with the calling of the game.
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Posted by Red Neck Girl (+56) 10 years ago
The live stream on the 92.3 fm website is very good.
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Posted by Colette Butcher (+400) 10 years ago
Halftime 37-0 Cowboys.
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Posted by Cowboyfootballfan (+12) 10 years ago
57-14. 2 minutes to go. The JV finished up the game. Everyone played solid.
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Posted by Cowboyfootballfan (+12) 10 years ago
57-14 final. Next week. Polson. Good luck Cowboys. Keep finishing strong.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
The Cowboys set a new team record for points scored (57) in a playoff game. The previous mark was a 56-9 victory over Bigfork in 1997. The 43-point margin of victory ranks second in Cowboy history behind the aforementioned Bigfork contest.

On the plus side for the Rangers, they scored more points (14) against Miles City than any Livingston team since 1983.

I wish that Livingston could have faced a different opponent than the Cowboys, who clearly outclassed the Rangers. Heather and I were very impressed with the hospitality of the home crowd. The team and community deserved better, considering the very sad circumstances that surrounded the contest.

A 15-year-old cross-country runner named Seamus Camp collapsed during the state meet last week and died last night. I feel terrible for his family and friends. Rest in peace, young sir.

http://billingsgazette.co...9738e.html

Results of the day's other playoff games:

Laurel 49, Lewistown 0
Hamilton 28, Libby 11

Laurel advances to play at Dillon (prediction: Dillon 35, Laurel 7) and Hamilton will play at Havre (prediction: Havre 42, Hamilton 14). Stevensville, which whipped Whitefish last night, will travel to Billings Central (prediction: Billings Central 35, Stevensville 28).

I'm only giving Dillon a 28-point win because they're coming off a bye and Laurel is a good team (and from the Eastern 'A'). I would not be surprised if the game is 49-0, Dillon.

Hamilton doesn't have the defense to stop Havre and doesn't have an offense to match the Blue Ponies point for point.

Central will take Stevi lightly and will have a hell of a game on their hands. I think the Rams will win, but it will come down to who plays better in the fourth quarter.

As for Miles City vs. Polson, I think it's key for the Cowboys not to get lulled into a false sense of security given the relative ease of their win today. Polson will be tough. I think the Cowboys' best will trump the Pirates' best, but this is the best Polson team in some time. Polson played a remarkably weak schedule, and going undefeated in the Northwest 'A' is to be taken with a grain of salt.

That having been said, Polson has outscored their opponents this season by a combined 349-59 margin and have posted four shutouts. That's not bad, regardless of the competition.

I'll take the Cowboys, 34-14.
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Posted by Mathew Schmitz (+280) 10 years ago
Under absolutely horrible emotional pressure, the Cowboys played a stellar game today in Livingston. Our boys witnessed true heartache today, before the game even kicked off, and stayed focused throughout the game. I watched our boys grow up today, and I could not be more proud of a Miles City football team. The Rangers were horribly over-matched, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and the Cowboys played out the game with class and honor. Not sure anyone could have played much better under that kind of emotional stress, and the game played out just like it probably had too. Cowboy dominance on both sides of the ball. The Livingston crowd met both the Cowboys and Rangers as they exited the field after the game, and offered heartfelt, tear stained congratulations to both teams. It was quite the emotional scene to witness. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Livingston community that lost a son today. Such a tragic loss in a small community. Your classmates fought hard for you today young man. RIP
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supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4457) 10 years ago
What happened in Livingston?
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Posted by John Morford (+350) 10 years ago
See Brian's post............
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Excellent post, Matthew.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
Noteworthy tidbits:

1.) The 57 points the Cowboys put up against Livingston ranks third in team history since 1972 and was the most since a 62-15 win over Hardin in the second game of the 1994 season.

The modern record for points scored was established in a 67-18 victory over Hardin in 1983.

2.) Alec Haughian's 87-yard interception return for a touchdown is the fifth-longest such play in CCDHS history (and the longest scoring play by a freshman). The record is a 100-yard return by an unnamed Cowboy in 1962.

More bits o' tid to come ...

[This message has been edited by Brian A. Reed (10/30/2011)]
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Posted by JCF (+389) 10 years ago
SW Conf. and the East each have 3 teams advance. Real possibility that 1st and 3rd from each conference will play each other in the semifinals. If this were the NFL, there would be a chorus of complaints about the lack of parity.......
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Posted by JCF (+389) 10 years ago
and by "real possibility" I meant that if Hamilton overcomes huge odds and beats Havre......... it could happen.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
As promised, a few more bits o' tid ...

1.) Robert Nalewaja's career-high 196 rushing yards were the fourth-best mark in CCDHS playoff history. His 192 yards in the first half are the most in a half since Brennan Haughian rushed for 216 yards in the first half against Butte Central in 2008.

2.) Nalewaja scored the first two touchdowns against Livingston, giving him seven consecutive touchdowns scored over a three-game span for the Cowboys. With three scores against the Rangers, he has 16 total touchdowns this year (10 rushing, 3 receiving, 2 punt returns and 1 on an interception return).

3.) Ben Herzog now has 15 touchdown passes this season, making him only the fourth Cowboys signal-caller to throw that many scores in a single season. The record is 19, by Chris Morford in 1997. Jordan Bryant had 18 in 2008 and Jase Wagner registered 17 in 1995.

4.) Herzog needs 10 more yards to become just the 10th Cowboys quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in a single season. His 138 attempts this season rank second in CCDHS history, behind only Bryant's 149 passes in 2008. His 61 attempts rank fifth. The record is 81 (Bryant, 2008).

5.) Perhaps even more impressively, Herzog has not thrown an interception over the last four games.

6.) Andrew Abel's 7-for-7 effort on PAT kicks is just the seventh time a Cowboys kicker has been perfect on seven or more attempts in a single game. Colin Vadheim went 8-for-8 against Hardin in 1994 and 1995. For the season, Abel is 31-for-38 on PAT attempts.

More to come ...
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
One more bonus bit o' tid before I hit the sack:

Polson is undefeated this season, but in addition to competing in what is the weakest division in Class A, the Pirates played the softest non-conference schedule of any team in the state.

The combined record of Polson's opponents this season is 19-51, including a 6-29 record for their non-conference foes. The Pirates played winless Anaconda and Browning and the one-win Belgrade Panthers and Frenchtown Broncs.

The BEST record posted by a Polson opponent is 5-4 (Whitefish). The only other playoff teams Polson faced were Hamilton (5-5) and Libby (5-5). Prior to Hamilton's (minor) upset victory over Libby in the first round of the playoffs, the Loggers were the only winning team the Pirates faced this season.

That having been said ...

Even though Miles City has never lost to Polson in five prior meetings, the Cowboys shouldn't take the Pirates lightly. They'll be playing at home and will want to prove that their undefeated record isn't a fluke.
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Posted by JCF (+389) 10 years ago
Not to mention that the Cowboys have to travel, according to Google maps, 556 miles to play the game. For comparison's sake, its ONLY 513 miles to Denver.......
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6116) 10 years ago
At least it's better than going to Whitefish (585 miles). The Cowboys have played the Bulldogs six times (the most of any playoff opponent since 1980) and have had to travel there four of those times, including three years in a row (1992-94).

Miles City and Whitefish met in the playoffs in four consecutive years from 1992 to 1995 (when the Bulldogs finally got to drive east). The only other Class A teams to meet even three straight years in the playoffs are Sidney vs. Anaconda (1987-89), Sidney vs. Ronan (1991-93) and Billings Central vs. Dillon (2007-09).
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