As the football season moves into its final weeks of the regular season it’s time to put on my swami hat and take a look at the playoff hopes of our area teams. Keep in mind these are all made with the disclaimer:
BARRING A MAJOR UPSET
Let’s start with Muskogee in 6A-II. The Roughers are tied for the lead with Stillwater in District 6A-II-1 with a 4-0 mark. They should be able to cruise by Tulsa Washington this week before getting to the heart of their schedule the last two weeks on the road against Bartlesville and Stillwater. With six teams in each district going to the playoffs in 6A, making the playoffs is not in question for the Roughers but at what spot is the question and that really boils down to the Bartlesville game. The Bruins are playing well, almost knocking off Stillwater last week. If Muskogee is successful there, then they will finish no worse than second which would earn them a first-round bye in the 6A format and a home playoff game in the second round.
FOUR IS THE LUCKY NUMBER
Let’s start with the district, 4A-4, which has, you guessed it, four of our area teams involved. At the top of that list is Poteau, which is tied with Ada at 4-0. The Pirates, who have run over everyone in the district so far, face their toughest opponent this week as they travel to Sallisaw before hosting Ada in two weeks. Brandon Tyler’s Black Diamonds are 3-1 in the district and are alone in third place. I don’t think Sallisaw has the firepower to knock off Poteau but after that Sallisaw will close out with easier games against Fort Gibson and Madill which should put them into the playoffs which would be a major win for a program that was 0-10 last year. For the Pirates it will come down to their showdown with Ada in two weeks to determine who’s first and second in the district.
The other two teams in our area in this district are Hilldale and Fort Gibson, both of whom will have a rough road to post season. Hilldale, which is in a three-way tie for sixth place with Broken Bow and Madill, has their fate in their own hands as they play those two teams over the next two weeks before closing the season in the Battle for the Rock against Fort Gibson in the season finale. A sweep of those games should be good enough to get them into post season. The Tigers have the toughest road to success as they have to face Ada, Sallisaw and then Hilldale over the final three weeks.
There is one other team in 4A in the area we don’t want to forget but really there’s no one that’s going to keep Wagoner from claiming the stop spot in 4A-3. They face McLain this week who got smacked by Cushing last week and then they close with what should be easy wins against Oologah and Miami as they march towards what they hope will be a second straight state championship.
THE 3A-3 SPOILER?
Berryhill will play a big role in the fate of our two area teams in this district, Checotah and Stigler. No one is going to catch Lincoln Christian which leads the district and Stigler gets their chance in the barrel with the Bulldogs this week before facing Berryhill next week. Stigler is in fifth place in the district and will probably need closing wins against Berryhill and Checotah to get in the playoff picture. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are in second place in the district and have Berryhill this week before a bye week and then Stigler to close. The Chiefs are just a half game behind Checotah with Seminole close on their heels so a win for Berryhill this week would go a long way to propelling them into post season. But I see Checotah at 6-2 on the season holding off Berryhill this week and all but nailing down that number two spot in the district while Stigler, which has had a great season at 6-1, has the schedule working against them down the stretch. Berryhill will be the common denominator for both these teams and will be a big factor particularly for Stigler.
TWO FOR 2-A
Eufaula and Vian are the area teams still going strong on the road to the playoffs. Eufaula is tied with Idabel for the lead in 2A-6 at 4-0. These two teams should cruise through their next two games before meeting for the district title in the final game of the season. Vian is tied with Prague at 4-0 atop 2A-5 and they will meet in two weeks to settle things. The Wolverines will tussle with Keys this week while coach Rafe Watkins will lead Prague against the team he coached last year, the fast-fading Warner Eagles and both the frontrunners should have easy wins. When they meet in two weeks, I’m taking the former Muskogee coach and his Red Devils over Vian for the title.
GORE NEEDS A BIG REBOUND THIS WEEK The Pirates got knocked out of the top spot in A-8 last week by Central Sallisaw, but they’ll need to shake that off as they face Panama this week with both teams tied for the number two spot. If the Pirates can win this week, they should be able to nail down the number two spot with closing games against Haskell and Porter, but a loss would, in all likelihood, relegate the Pirates to a road game in the opening round of the playoffs. Panama still has to play Central Sallisaw in two weeks but even if they lose but beat Gore, they’ll have the head-to-head tie breaker over Gore for second place assuming they beat Haskell to close the regular season