When a fourth team was added to the playoffs in Class 3A and 2A this year, several area coaches told me how it would be make every game matter. Teams wouldn’t be eliminated until the final week was over.
And they were right. City View and Holliday are both 0-3 and still hold playoff hopes, albeit slim. They play each other this week and the winner could still be alive depending on scenarios.
But adding a fourth playoff team has also taken a little drama out of nabbing a playoff spot.
For instance in 5-3A, Graham, Vernon and Hirschi all clinched on Friday night. There’s only one spot up for grabs left and it’ll go to the Burkburnett-Iowa Park winner. The loser won’t even have a chance in the last week.
Of course, seeding still will matter and Graham hasn’t clinched the district title yet. But there won’t be a 5-3A game in Week 10 that will decide a postseason berth.
It’s similar in 5-2A Division II as well. Nocona and Jacksboro are both in – and Henrietta is all but there. So there’s really one spot up for grabs, and depending on the Alvord-Henrietta outcome this week, Week 10 might be anticlimactic.
Still, there’s a lot to decide these next couple weeks, but not as much as in previous years. More playoff spots are partially to blame.
Now onto some thoughts:
* I’ll have a full playoff scenario blog on each 11-man district in the next couple days. I’ve got to check with some area coaches on tiebreakers first.
* Kudos to Hirschi and Wichita Falls High School for earning playoff spots this week. In a tough 5-4A district, that’s quite an accomplishment for the Coyotes, who went 0-7 in league play last year. And having seen the game in person, Old High’s 21-7 win over Lake Dallas wasn’t a fluke. The Falcons were dominated up front and were lucky it was that close.
* The Huskies have been winning close games this year, which is why they are going to the playoffs. First Carrollton Ranchview, then Burkburnett and Iowa Park.
* Other teams that earned playoff spots Friday: Graham, Vernon, Nocona, Jacksboro and Seymour. Rider is all but in and so is Henrietta and Windthorst.
* Burkburnett-Iowa Park is to decide fourth place in 5-3A and shape the I-3A Division I and II regions as well.
If Burkburnett makes it, Graham goes down to Division II and automatically becomes the favorite. Shallowater is also unbeaten and Monahans looks good on paper, but I’d be willing to bet the Steers take the title.
If Iowa Park wins, then all of a sudden Graham-Stephenville in the second week is an amazing matchup. And I think that’s a toss-up – that’s how highly I think of the Steers.
So you can bet a lot of Graham people will descend on Burkburnett Friday (Graham plays Thursday) to watch firsthand the game that shapes their playoff route.
* How about Nocona and Jacksboro playing for the 5-2A Division II title for the second year in a row. I’m impressed with how the Indians have looked after losing a whole bunch from last year. And I like the Tigers’ bouncing back from an 0-2 start and really getting the running game going.
* Holliday’s inability to close out games is likely to end the Eagles’ seven-year playoff streak. They led Nocona 14-10 going into the fourth quarter, only to lose 23-14.
For the season, Holliday has been outscored 104-17 in the fourth quarter. That’s insane.
* It sounded like a crazy District 3-A game went down in Quanah on Friday. That’s where I would have been if we weren’t shorthanded right now. I’m not surprised the Indians played them down to the wire, either. Even when Quanah was losing four in a row, I thought it could be the district’s second-best team.
* Speaking of crazy games, how about Henrietta 55, City View 48. For the record, the Bearcats scored 89 points all of last season. And when the two teams met in 2012, the final score was City View 7, Henrietta 0.
* It looked for a while that either Vernon’s Orlando Haymon or Electra’s Michael Bishop would lead the area in rushing this regular season. Both have been hampered by ankle injuries, with Haymon finally sitting out the whole game Friday. Not sure, but judging off stats, it looked like Bishop did as well.
Bishop still had the lead entering this week, but may get passed. Hirschi’s Cedric Battle and Jacksboro’s D.J. Thomas have good chances if they keep producing like they have, although Battle has only one game left.
* The district that’s likely to come down to a tiebreaker for a playoff spot/spots is 8-A Division II.
Part of that is because I and not many others saw Era’s 3-0 start coming. But the Hornets could easily finish 3-2 with games against Munday and Muenster left. If Electra wins out (no guarantee) and Munday beats Era, then we’re looking at three 3-2 teams for two spots.
* I know some of these six-man towns have no choice, but I dislike forfeits at that level unless totally necessary. Paint Creek knows it can’t compete against Throckmorton and Crowell and has just enough players to field a team. So it forfeits, then wants to still play a JV game. You can’t blame Throckmorton for declining the JV offer – that’s not fair to their seniors (which can’t play in a “JV” game).