SIX-MAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW – WEEK TEN
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
The final weekend of the regular season begins today, with a number of important games on the docket. With this also being the week of the National FFA convention, several schools wrapped up their schedules last week, to avoid any conflicts. Most of the play-off field is set, but there will still be a lot of jostling for position over the weekend. All of the rankings mentioned are according to the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index, as of Friday morning.
The game on Friday’s slate that is garnering the most attention is #1 Stratton visiting #2 Fleming. It is viewed by many as a state championship preview. The two programs met for the title in 2019 and 2020, with Fleming taking the crown both years. Over the last decade, they have both been dominant. Since 2012, when Stratton formed the now defunct co-op with Liberty, the Eagles (either on their own or as the co-op) have posted a 95-22 record. Fleming is 93-23 during the same span.
Only one team has more wins over Stratton in that frame than Fleming’s four, and that is Cheyenne Wells with five. The winner of this contest is the top overall seed, and it is hard to believe that the loser falls below #2, but a slip to third is possible.
Granada (3rd) was slated to make a trek to Sierra Grande (12th) on Friday, but travel conditions over La Veta Pass have pushed that to Saturday morning. When the two do hook up, memories of last year’s state quarterfinal thriller will be hard to shake. Granada scored late in that one to snag a 48-44 win, but the teams both look quite a bit different this time around. For the Bobcats a potential #2 seed is on the line, but a loss might slide them down a couple of spots. Sierra Grande looks like a lock for the postseason, but a loss just might make the rest of the weekend a bit uneasy.
Of the remaining games on Friday, one that could determine the final qualifier has Deer Trail (19th) visiting Cotopaxi (17th). Neither team is guaranteed a spot with the victory, but it will definitely help their cause. The Eagles have dropped two of their last three after opening the season 6-0, while Cotopaxi has lost its last two.
Hanover (18th) is the team causing so many issues for squads currently sitting 16th through 20th, as the Hornets are guaranteed a spot in the bracket by virtue of their win over Deer Trail last week. They are the champs of the East Central and unless they finish in the top-16, someone is getting bounced. Right now, that team is Idalia (16th). Hanover visits an old league rival, Genoa-Hugo (8th) on Friday, and a win moves the Hornets into the top-16. For the Pirates, they go into the contest holding the final hosting spot in the first round. A win probably keeps them there, but that’s not a certainty.
Eads (9th) has the potential of jumping Genoa-Hugo if the Eagles can go on the road and beat Idalia on Friday. It’s an interesting match-up because the Wolves are playing for the postseason lives, despite only having two wins on the season. Even if they pull off the upset, there is no guarantee that it will be enough to grab that final wild card spot. Eads could fall as far as 12th with a loss.
Another team lurking in the shadows for a first round hosting position is Branson/Kim (10th). The Bearcats will host Cheyenne Wells (7th) on Saturday, with both teams knowing they are in the field. Should the Bearcats spring the upset, it’s not inconceivable that they swap places with the Tigers. A loss may cost them a couple spots. Looking at the gap between Cheyenne Wells and the six teams ahead of them in the seeding index, it could be hard to move up from its current position.
One of the teams above the Tigers, North Park (6th) hosts Mountain Valley (23rd) on Saturday. The Wildcats are about as hot as anyone else in the state, having won their last six games. They are sitting third in the RPI, which will take a small hit even with a win over the lower-ranked Indians. A loss could cost them a first round home game.
Cheraw (11th) is in a similar situation. The Wolverines most likely cant get up into the top-eight, but a loss to Primero (28th) would send them tumbling down the standings. Primero has lost its last seven games after beginning the year with a win over Sangre de Cristo (31st). The Wolverines have won three straight and four of five.
Two teams out of the North go into the weekend with a lot of question marks. Briggsdale (13th) has already earned a win by way of forfeit from Flagler (26th), but that will still impact the RPI for the Falcons, and not completely in a good way. Opponent’s winning percentage takes a big hit as the Panthers finished the season without a victory.
Prairie (14th) is also looking at having it’s RPI factor negatively impacted by the OWP component, as the Mustangs are set to host Hi-Plains (27th) on Friday. Unlike their rivals, they still face the possibility of being upset and falling out of postseason contention. Some very rough calculations have the Mustangs in with a win.
La Veta (15th) is the team that could find itself out of the postseason, even with a win, despite having a spot going into the final weekend. The Redhawks have lost four of their last five, with the lone win coming from a forfeit. All four of those teams that beat them could make the postseason, but even one more victory in that stretch and the Redhawks are probably comfortably in the field. Kiowa had its own hopes of making the postseason dashed by losses in each of the last two weeks, but the Indians can still play spoiler. A win gives them a .500 record on the year.