It’s been eight years since the Libby Loggers football team has appeared in a playoff game.
Libby is entering its third season back in Class A after two seasons in Class B play and has its sights set on getting back into the big show.
“It’s been eight years since we’ve been to the playoffs and it’s one of the big goals,” coach Neil Fuller, in his 17th year coaching the Loggers, said.
Libby missed out on a playoff berth last year to Whitefish, despite having a better overall and conference record (5-4, 4-1) because of a new points system. There were several games versus non-league opponents that Whitefish won and Libby lost.
This season adds a new wrinkle with divisional realignment. Instead of four divisions in Class A football, there will be two, with 12 teams each instead of six.
The new Western division will include Hamilton, Dillon, Frenchtown, Stevensville, Butte Central and Stevensville, formerly of the Southwest. Columbia Falls, Libby, Whitefish, Browning, Ronan and Polson round out the new division.
Teams will still play nine games with the only change being that there will be no non-league games. The top six teams in the East and West will earn a playoff spot, seeded according to how they finished the regular season.
“That’s going to make it exciting,” Fuller said. “Each week is a big week. Just puts a little more pressure on everybody cause every game counts.”
Fuller said the team has a lot of players returning from last season.
Senior defensive end Cayman Lee, senior offensive lineman Chris Schedlebauer, senior offensive and defensive lineman Tanner Marshall, junior linebacker and tight end Dave Patterson and junior tailback Dawson Young were all second team all conference selections last season.
All-conference honorable mention players include junior defensive back and quarterback Jay Beagle, senior wide receiver Chandler Bower, junior safety Ryker McElmurry, senior offensive lineman Cyrus Sweedman and senior offensive lineman Riley Vogel.
At quarterback, Fuller plans to use both Beagle and senior Jeff Offenbecher. Offenbecher threw for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He averaged 180 yards per game. Beagle averaged 93.5 yards per game, threw for 655 yards and five touchdowns.
“The kids have been working hard and we’re looking forward to having a lot of fun this season,” Fuller said.
The Loggers start their season on Friday, Aug. 30 with an away game against Whitefish. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.