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Arlee vs. Flint Creek: 8-man football's winner take all

The Western C 8-man football division title comes down to the last game of the year this Friday when the undefeated Arlee Warriors visit the equally unbeaten Flint Creek Titans in Drummond.

“It’s a huge matchup,” Arlee coach Mike Rogers said. “There’s gonna be a pile of talent on the football field Friday night. I think it’s gonna be a good game.”

Both teams come into the matchup 6-0 in league matches with the State C 8-man playoffs waiting the next weekend. Here’s a look at the winner-take-all matchup:

The regular season finale is being played in Drummond, the home of half of the new Flint Creek co-op that also features Philipsburg. The winner will not only earn the Western C title, but also the league’s top seed to the state bracket where it will face the Northern C’s No.s 4 team in the first-round next weekend.

That could still be any number of teams with Great Falls Central, Simms and Chinook all tied for second at 5-2 in their league matches. The loser of Arlee-Flint Creek will likely face another one of those three Northern A teams and the No. 3 finisher in that league.

In the actual Flint Creek and Arlee matchup, both offenses can score with each averaging above 50 points per outing. Flint Creek checks in a 53 while Arlee is a little closer to 55. The Flint Creek defense gets the slight nudge with only 12 points and change allowed per game while Arlee is up at 18.

Arlee’s top weapons come in the form of their quarterback and wide receiver combo of Riley Rogers and Patrick BigSam. Rogers has 24 total touchdowns this season with BigSam in on 18 of his own.

Flint Creek is far more likely to keep it on the ground with back Danny Mannix and quarterback Tyler Bergerson. The duo has combined for 16 rushing touchdowns, Mannix with the bulk of the load at nine TDs. He also leads the team with 432 rushing yards rushing, just ahead Bergerson’s 353.

But Bergerson can also throw, completing 66 percent of his passes on the year for 519 yards and five more scores. Four of them went to Cade Estes.

The difference may be on the sidelines, where Flint Creek is led by coach Jim Oberweiser, a man with more than 30 years of experience behind the whistle for the Trojans before their combo with P-burg this fall. Not to mention assistant coach Mike Cutler, a veteran coach with the Prospectors as well.

“They’ve got a lot of experience on their side on the coaching level,” Arlee’s Rogers said. “I’m fairly inexperienced myself this being just my fourth year.”

Whoever wins, it’ll be a great matchup to watch. Arlee is searching for its first league title since 2000 when the Warriors went all the way to the 8-man state semifinals. Drummond’s last league title came in 2009, not coincidentally also the last time they won a state title.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted for my kids, to be able to go out and play for a conference title,” Rogers said.

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