Changes seen in Fergus and Junior High sports schedules

Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

One of the first things Fergus sports fans will note about the new schedules for Fergus High School and Lewistown Junior High is change. Note the only change in the Fergus schedule is Browning missing on the schedules. Last fall, the Montana High School Association moved Browning from the Class A Central Division to the Class A Northwest Division. As of Monday, Aug. 14, the MHSA Handbook had not been updated to reflect the change, but Browning will now be playing Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Libby, Ronan and Polson. Frenchtown moves to the Southwest division. Libby requested to move back to Class A, while Ronan’s request to remain in Class B was denied by the MHSA Board of Directors.
The biggest change in scheduling comes for the Lewistown Junior High. Girls will begin this year’s sports schedule playing volleyball, rather than basketball. Girls will then begin their basketball season on Oct. 16, followed by the boys’ basketball season on Jan. 2.
The second major change is the teams the junior high will be playing. Over the past few years, the junior high has always gone north to play schools such as Malta, Havre, Rocky Boy and Harlem. Due to a difficult time with scheduling of the teams from the north, Athletic Director Jim Daniels has scheduled teams from the south. They include Hardin, Lockwood, Laurel and St. Francis for volleyball and girls’ and boys’ basketball. The football schedule includes Hardin, Malta, Laurel and Havre. The wrestling schedule does not change much as the team will be wrestling at tournaments in Havre, Chinook, Conrad, Malta and Harlem.

MHSA Board passes new enrollment figures for classification
In addition to the changes mentioned above, the MHSA Executive Board revised the enrollment figures for the four classifications in the state. The Class AA current enrollment figure of 826+ was lowered to 779+. In Class A the current enrollment figure of 340-825 was changed to 307-778, while in Class B the current figure went from 120-339 to 108-306. Class C enrollment went from 1-119 to 1-107.
The MHSA will continue utilizing the 10 percent range. For example, any school that exceeds the maximum levels by no more than 10 percent may remain at the lower classification for two years. In case, anyone is interested, Belgrade High School had an enrollment of 859 students for the Oct. count of last year, while its spring count was 825 students. That gives them an average of 842 students for the 2016-2017 school year. That should mean with the change in numbers for classification, that if Belgrade stayed above an average of 779 students this school year, they should be required to move up to Class AA the following year.
One of the most unusual moves I noted from the November Executive Board meeting was allowing some Class B schools to play Class C eight-man football. This year Choteau, Forsyth, Joliet, Lame Deer, Lodge Grass, Rocky Boy, Saint Ignatius, Saint Labre and Troy will be playing eight-man football instead of 11-man football.
The Board also moved Hot Springs and Box Elder up to eight-man football, while allowing Power/Dutton-Brady, Shields Valley and Wibaux County to move down to six-man.
According to the MHSA handbook, 39 teams played Class B 11-man football last year, and, if my figures are correct, only 28 teams will be playing Class B football this year. In Class C eight-man football, 36 teams played last year, and there will be 44 teams this year. That will leave Class C eight-man football with the largest number of teams. Six-man football has 31 teams this year.


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