Playoffs Return to Naranche

The date was November 2, 1973. Butte Central beat Miles City 26-7 on a snow-covered Naranche Stadium field. It was the last time a playoff game took place at the fabled old ballyard. This Friday night exactly 39 years after the last post season action at Naranche. The playoffs return to now renovated Naranche Stadium. The Butte Bulldogs host the Billings Skyview Falcons. It will be the first time Butte High has hosted a playoff game since 1991. Actually, it’s the first playoff game Butte High will ever play at Naranche Stadium. Now, granted the Bulldogs have hosted four title games in Naranche Stadium, but no playoff games. The concept of playoff games has only been used in the Class AA ranks since the middle of the 1970s. By the time playoffs were introduced, Butte High was playing home games at the East School Stadium. They only moved into their new digs at Naranche Stadium one year ago. If you look at the long history of Naranche Stadium there have only been two playoff games played at the Stadium. The last was the Butte Central-Miles City game in 1973. The other was a Western A playoff game between Butte Central and Anaconda in 1954. The Maroons won that game 37-19. Playoff games have been a rarity at Naranche Stadium, but the grand ballfield has been the center of attention for many state championship games. The first was played in 1941 when Butte High battled Billings Senior for the state crown. The two clubs finished the game in a 7-7 tie and both were declared co-state champions. The next state title game came in 1948. Butte Central beat Glendive 14-7 to win the Class A state crown. The next year, in 1949, Butte High met Great Falls in the Class AA state finals. The Bison upset the Bulldogs winning 18-6. Butte High was back home the next year, in 1950, competing in the state finals at Naranche Stadium against Kalispell. The Braves had their way that afternoon beating Butte High easily 55-21. In 1952, Butte Central was back at Naranche playing Glendive in the finals. The Maroons beat the Red Devils 12-7. The next year, in 1953, Missoula County shut out the Bulldogs 14-0 in the Class AA finals. The next fall,in 1954, Butte Central and Glendive were back in Naranche playing the state championship. This time Glendive bested the Maroons 15-6 for the Class A title. In a six-year period there were five state  championship games played at Naranche Stadium. The next state finals at the complex was 1959. Butte High met Kalispell on a cold Saturday afternoon. The contest was moved to Saturday afternoon from Friday night because of the nasty weather. The Braves beat the Bulldogs 39-0. It would be another ten years before a state title game was played on the dirt at Naranche. In 1969, Butte Central whipped Polson 20-6 in the Class A finals. One final state championship contest took place at Naranche in 1972. Butte Central outscored Wolf Point 47-26 to claim a second straight Class A state championship. The old Naranche Stadium now with new life will now produce more memories on Friday night when the Bulldogs host the Falcons in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. It is a new era with hopefully new results for the Bulldogs as they try to win their first ever post season game at the fabled Naranche  Stadium.