SIX-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK EIGHT
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
As the six-man campaign hits the final three weeks of regular season play, our focus shifts to how each of the five leagues are shaping up, and what each game on the schedule means as far as the postseason field is concerned. All rankings are according to Thursday’s release of the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, which combines the CHSAA RPI and MaxPreps rankings, the two data points used in putting together the play-off field. The divisions are listed in alphabetical order.
EAST (League 2)
Stratton (1st) has already beaten all but one challenger inside the East division, with only a clash against #6 Arickaree next week still to go. The Eagles can lock up the outright division title without even taking the field this week. They have received a forfeit from Flagler, and if #4 Otis wins at Arickaree on Friday, Stratton gains the automatic qualifier spot from the East.
Otis will be looking to become only the second team to win the week after playing Stratton. The Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season, 64-20, last week, and trail the Eagles by one game in the standings. Only Genoa-Hugo (5th) has picked up a win after losing to Stratton so far this season. Ironically, the Pirates beat Arickaree. The Bison took a forfeit win over Flagler last week, so they’ve had an extra week to get healthy and prepare for this big contest with Otis. The game will feature a dynamic dual-threat on each side, with Tayte Smith leading the Bulldogs and Logan Wright spearheading Arickaree. The game could hinge upon who gets the biggest output from the supporting cast.
Idalia (18th) hosts Genoa-Hugo on Thursday, and despite the 1-5 mark, the Wolves aren’t that far out of a postseason spot. They’re coming off a bye week, and a win most likely puts Idalia in one of the final slots with two games to play. The Pirates rolled to a lopsided win against Hi-Plains (25th) 66-26 last week. They have next week off. It’s a contrast of styles, as Idalia likes to hammer the ball inside in the run game with Kye Towns and Logan Breyer, while the Pirates spread the ball around in the passing game behind Trey Smith. They have a Swiss Army Knife in Konner Rowden-Stum, who leads the team in rushing, receiving, and kick return yardage.
EAST CENTRAL (League 3)
Deer Trail (17th) suffered its first loss of the year last week, as North Park (8th) earned a 58-19 non-league win on the road. The Eagles are tied with Hanover (20th) atop the East Central, and they will meet next week. First, Deer Trail visits Miami-Yoder (29th) on Friday. The Buffs have been outscored 116-0 the last two weeks, including 59-0 last week by Hanover.
Hanover hosts Kiowa (24th) on Saturday, with the Indians sitting one game behind the Hornets and Deer Trail in the division. They need a win to have any shot of earning a share of the division title. Kiowa has won two straight, taking league wins over Manzanola and Bethune. The Hornets have won three straight, and own a 165-6 edge in three league games.
Bethune hosts Manzanola on Saturday, with the winner climbing out of the division cellar. They have combined for just one win so far, with Bethune beating Weldon Valley back in week two.
NORTH (League 1)
Fleming (2nd) was the preseason favorite to win the North and the Wildcats can take a major step towards that objective on Friday when they visit Prairie (14th). They are unbeaten in the league, with a three-team logjam behind them. Prairie is part of that grouping, having lost to Briggsdale (15th) and beaten North Park. Fleming plays Briggsdale next week, so a win this week can’t quite lock up the crown. Prairie got a touchdown on the final play of the game last week to beat Branson/Kim 36-34 in a big non-league clash.
North Park is out of the league again this week, visiting Cotopaxi (13th) on Saturday. The Wildcats can take a big step toward earning a first round home game with a win against the Pirates, who have won two straight overall. North Park dropped its first two games of the season, but have won four straight since.
Briggsdale hosts Weldon Valley (26th) on Thursday, and the Falcons need a win to keep their hopes of a league title and automatic berth into the postseason alive. Briggsdale has won six straight over the Warriors, who are looking for their first league victory of the season.
Peetz (22nd) is on the road Friday at Hi-Plains in a non-league contest. The loser of that one is all but eliminated from postseason consideration. The Bulldogs have not won since week one, while Hi-Plains only has a forfeit victory in its win column.
SOUTH EAST (League 4)
There is a three-way tie atop the South East standings, but that will change after this weekend. Granada (3rd), Cheyenne Wells (9th), and Eads (7th) all enter the weekend 3-1 in the league, with Cheraw (11th) sitting at 2-2. Cheyenne Wells heads to Eads on Friday and a Tiger win most likely gives the league lead to Granada, due to the Bobcats owning the tiebreaker, but they have to get past Kit Carson (21st) on Friday. Eads can grab sole possession of the lead with a win, after the Eagles scored on the final play last week to beat Granada (52-46).
Cheraw is not eliminated from the league race, due to their win over Eads a few weeks back. But, the Wolverines cannot afford to slip up down the stretch. They host Walsh (19th) on Saturday, and the Eagles have shown an ability to score points in large quantities. The need a win to get back into the conversation for one of the final postseason spots.
SOUTHWEST (League 5)
Last week’s loss at Prairie dropped Branson/Kim to 10th in the seeding index, which would have the Bearcats on the road in the opening round of the play-offs. They are back in action inside the South West at Mountain Valley (23rd) on Saturday. The Bearcats already own wins over the next two teams in the league standings, Cotopaxi and Sierra Grande (12th), and will close out league play next week against La Veta (16th), who is fourth in the standings, two games back. A win on Saturday secures no less than a share of the division title.
Sierra Grande can keep its slim divisional title hopes alive with a win at home Friday over Primero (27th). The Panthers need that win, and a win over Cotopaxi next weekend, plus two losses by Branson/Kim, to finish atop the standings. Conversely, Cotopaxi wins the league by beating Sierra Grande next week, and two losses by the Bearcats.
La Veta can’t afford to look past Sangre de Cristo (32nd) on Friday, with its big contest against Branson/Kim on the horizon. The Redhawks currently hold the final postseason spot, and may have to win out to keep it. They can’t win the league, but will have a chance to help decide who does.