EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK TEN
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
As the final weekend of the regular season begins, a lot is still to be decided. Positions 12-20 in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index are incredibly close, and we’ll probably have to wait until the bracket unveiling to know for sure who gets in as the last wild cards. Let’s look at the games this week that could have the greatest impact on the postseason seeding. All rankings are according to Thursday’s release of the seeding index.
Things get started on Thursday with two games, one featuring Calhan (20th) who is visiting South Park (36th) for a non-league contest. While a win for the Bulldogs over a lower-ranked opponent won’t help a whole lot in the RPI, a loss would completely eliminate them. Calhan enters the afternoon affair having won two straight since a 54-20 loss to #4 Simla. One of those was a 42-6 decision over South Park in league play. Aiden Jack ran for 192 yards and three scores on 11 carries, while also throwing a TD and catching another in the win.
The other game on Thursday has Lyons (6th) hosting Belleview Christian (28th) to wrap up League 5 play. The biggest impact this contest has on the final bracket is where the Lions end up. They will host a first round game with a win on Thursday, but likely fall out of the top eight with a loss. A win also surpasses the victory total for the past four years, combined. As for Belleview Christian, a victory will not be enough to get the Bruins into the postseason, but it would give them a winning campaign in their first back since last competing in 2017.
Friday is loaded with important contests, so we’ll begin at the top of the standings and work our way down. Haxtun (1st) visits Merino (9th) and the Fightin’ Bulldogs can lock up sole ownership of League 4, also known as the Plains, with the win. It would also secure the defending champs the top overall seed in the bracket. However, a win by the Rams creates a three-way tie for the league title, assuming Akron (5th) beats Caliche (18th) on Friday. Merino wins the division with a win and an Akron loss. They would also secure a first round home game.
Because of their earlier loss to Haxtun, Akron can’t gain more than a share of the league title. However, a win over Caliche solidifies the Rams as a first round host, and possibly a top-four seed. A win by the Buffs helps their cause as making the field as one of the final teams in. Even that might not be enough to get in, but a loss likely ends their run.
Dove Creek (2nd) has wrapped up the League 1 crown and a win at Sargent (32nd) will most likely keep the Bulldogs on the opposite side of the bracket as Haxtun, setting up a potential title game showdown. As things stand right now, they would have a semifinal clash with Mancos (3rd), who is done for the regular season. Even with a loss this week, it’s unlikely that the Bulldogs would fall out of the top eight, keeping them in line to host the opening round. Mancos is solid as a first round host.
That league could potentially get three first round hosts, as Sanford (7th) is also in position to be home next weekend (in a good way). The Mustangs host Dolores (38th) on Friday and a victory over the winless Bears won’t help much in the RPI, but again, it’s better than a loss. Depending on how things go with the teams a couple spots on either side of the Mustangs in the seeding index, they should be solid in that top eight with a win.
Simla has a chance to climb into the top-three with a win over St. Mary’s (30th) at home on Friday, but it’s not a big chance. The gap in the RPI is fairly significant, and with the Pirates sitting 27th in that metric, the gap could even increase.
Vail Christian (8th) begins the week in the final hosting position, but the Saints may need more than just a win over Rangely (26th) on Friday to hold onto that. Several of the teams right behind them will be facing opponents that are higher in the RPI and that could negatively impact Vail Christian. A loss against the Panthers would send the League 2 champs tumbling down the index and definitely have them on the road next week.
Two other League 2 squads have a chance to help their causes this week, and both need to start with wins. Hayden (13th) hosts Soroco (35th) and like so many other teams that currently hold postseason spots, beating a team so low in the RPI could ding the Tigers a bit in that metric. West Grand (15th) is also in that situation, as the Mustangs host Plateau Valley (29th). A loss by either of the higher-ranked teams in those match-ups will probably dash their hopes. That is especially true for West Grand, who begins the week with a razor-thin margin for error.
Crowley County (10th) is in prime position to capitalize on any slips by teams in a first round hosting spot, but the Chargers need to pick up a win at John Mall (25th) on Friday before anything else matters. That would secure the League 6 title for the Chargers and guarantee them entry into the postseason. Should the Panthers pull off the upset, Fowler’s (20th) game with Dolores Huerta Prep (31st) takes on added importance. That contest was originally scheduled to be at DHP, but things changed midweek, and will now be played in Fowler. The date and time was still in the air on Thursday, as it would be up to the availability of officials. Wins by both Fowler and John Mall would create a three-way tie for the top spot in the league. In that event, the MaxPreps rankings break the tie.
One of the biggest contests of the entire weekend has Holly (12th) visiting Swink (14th) on Friday. The Wildcats hold a one-game lead over both Swink and McClave (16th) in the League 7 race and a win at the Lions gives them the league title and automatic berth into the postseason. Swink creates the three-way tie with a win and a McClave victory against Wiley (22nd) in their big rivalry match. The Lions can grab the outright crown with a win and a McClave loss. Wiley’s chances of making the postseason are very slim, but the Panthers would relish the opportunity to knock the Cards out of contention.
Saturday has one key contest, with Dayspring Christian (11th) hosting Sedgwick County (17th). The Eagles could probably absorb a loss and still make it into the postseason, but it would make for a very anxious day or two while the bracket is finalized. For the Cougars, they need a win to remain in consideration. Both will go into the game having a pretty good idea of exactly what they will need to do, as almost every other game will have been played by the time they kick it off. Sedgwick County has not missed the play-offs since the 2013 season, but that fate likely awaits the Cougars with a loss.