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HELENA -- Just like last week, Helena High and Helena Capital will be playing on same field, on the same day. 

The Bruins and Bengals will be playing at Vigilante Stadium for the second straight Friday, however, the difference is that they will be playing at different times as part of a Class AA first-round playoff doubleheader.

Helena Capital defeated Helena 7-6 last week in a crosstown slobberknocker. Monte Pearson sealed the win for the Bruins by batting a Hayden Ferguson pass into the air and intercepting it with less than two minutes left. 

The victory gave the Bruins the No. 3 seed in the Western AA and a first-round matchup Friday with Belgrade, which is coming off its first win of the season against Billings Skyview last week.

Capital and Belgrade will battle in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m., while Helena High will take on CMR in a rematch from the season opener at 4 p.m.

"We looked at Belgrade's last five or six games," Capital head coach Kyle Mihelish said. "They have changed a few things. They were running a veer option and have settled into some wing-T stuff and no back, so we will see some different looks."

One thing to expect is plenty of rushing attempts for the Panthers. Belgrade quarterback Dyson Cheney is a dual threat and has averaged only 104 passing yards per game.

Yet, Cheney has been hurt the past two weeks and could give way to Kash Fike, who is 14-of-29 for 102 yards and three interceptions this season. 

Belgrade has struggled to establish much of anything offensively, but moving the ball hasn't been an issue for Helena Capital this season. 

Bridger Grovom has thrown for over 1,600 yards, while the Bruins also boast Kadyn Craigle, who is third in Class AA in rushing with 1,034 yards. He's averaged six yards per carry and has eight rushing touchdowns. 

The Bruins also have Noah Braden, who is ninth in Class AA with over 650 rushing yards in addition to start wideout Parker Johnston, who caught a lengthy touchdown last week in what proved to be the winning score.

It's clear that Helena Capital (7-2) has an advantage over 1-7 Belgrade, but in this new playoff format, where all 15 Class AA teams qualify, everyone starts fresh and Mihelish outlined what his team must do to survive and advance.

"Everyone knows the urgency of the situation," Mihelish said. "Obviously, you have to be strong in all three phases of the game and you have to be able to play complimentary football. It would great if we could get all three phases of the game going. But you have to create turnovers, that's big."

Capital forced four turnovers in the win over Helena High. 

Helena High vs CMR (Friday 4 p.m.)

A lot has changed between now and the start of the season, when Helena High defeated CMR 26-15.

That game was the first career start for Bengals quarterback Kaden Huot. Yet, after suffering an injury in the fourth quarter against Helena Capital, his status in up in the air.

"He's been looking better," Helena High head coach Scott Evans said. "We plan to have him but if not, we also have a very good quarterback in Hayden Ferguson."

Ferguson has played running back and wide receiver for the Bengals, but has experience at quarterback and directed the final two drives against Helena Capital last week.

No matter who is at quarterback, the offense will feature talented receivers Kyler Tesch and Raef Miller, as well as Logan Brown, who is 10th in the Class AA in rushing yards.

"We have a lot of confidence going in," Evans said. "And I like that we get to play the early game and that we get the field first. I think that works out pretty well for us."

Having to beat a team twice is never easy, but Evans said it's just a matter of executing.

"They look very similar to that first game," Evans said. "They changed some things at quarterback but we just need to execute and take care of our business."

A big key for the Bengals will be taking care of the football and executing in the red zone, two areas where Helena High has been up and down.

"I hate to keep saying it, but it's mostly things we have done to ourselves," Evans said. "When we get inside the 30, we just have to finish and build some confidence." 

Townsend at Fairfield (Saturday, 1 p.m.)

After being in a position to win the Southern B two weeks ago, Townsend fell to the No. 4 seed after consecutive losses to Manhattan and Columbus to end the season. The task only gets harder on Saturday as the Bulldogs travel to Fairfield to take on the defending Class B state champs. The Eagles have won 20 consecutive games and 30 of their last 31. 

Jefferson at Malta (Saturday, 1 p.m.)

Both Jefferson and Malta experienced a great deal of success in the regular season. The Panthers notched a three-game improvement this season after going 2-6 in 2018. Clint Layng's team will enter the postseason as the third-seed from the Southern B and will travel to 7-1 Malta, which is the No. 2 from the Northern B. The Mustangs also loss was to unbeaten Fairfield. 

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Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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