The final week of the high school football season in the 5A and 4A classifications always leads to plenty of “what ifs” and “what abouts” trying to figure out playoff scenarios.
So we dusted off the rule book, removed our socks for the extra counting digits and broke it all down for you.
5A SIC POD A
Playoff berths: Three
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Clinched berths: Capital, Mountain View
Scenarios: Mountain View travels to Capital on Friday at Dona Larsen Park for the pod championship. The winner takes the top seed into the playoffs, which comes with a bye and the right to host a quarterfinal game.
The loser takes second in the pod and hosts the third-place team from eastern Idaho — Rigby, Hillcrest or Bonneville — in the first round.
▪ Meridian claims the third playoff berth with a win at Columbia on Friday. It would then travel to face Madison in the first round.
▪ Columbia can claim third place with a win over Meridian and a Nampa victory over Boise. That leaves Columbia and Meridian 2-3 in the pod, and Columbia owns the head-to-head victory.
▪ Wins from Columbia and Boise leave them and Meridian 2-3 in the pod with no head-to-head tiebreaker. The trio would play a three-way Kansas City tiebreaker at 6 p.m. Monday at Kuna High with the winner advancing to state.
A Kansas City tiebreaker pits two teams against each other with rotating possessions, like a college football overtime. The first possession starts at the 40-yard line, and if neither team wins, subsequent possessions move to the 10.
A team would need to beat both opponents in one round to emerge as the top seed. If no one does, the round robin starts over again.
5A SIC POD B
Playoff berths: Three
Clinched berths: Eagle, Rocky Mountain, Borah
Eliminated: Timberline, Centennial
Scenarios: Eagle clinches the pod title, first-round bye and a home quarterfinal game with a win against Borah at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Dona Larsen Park.
▪ A Borah win and a Rocky Mountain loss Friday at Centennial allows the Lions to take the pod championship. Eagle would finish second and Rocky Mountain third.
▪ Wins by Borah and Rocky Mountain leave all three teams 4-1 in the pod with victories over each other. Since all three teams are in the playoffs, a Kansas City tiebreaker isn’t necessary. The three teams will flip a coin for seeding.
The odd-team out — for example, the one coin that comes up tails while the other two are heads — takes the top seed into the playoffs. Second- and third-place are then determined by the results of their regular-season meeting.
5A AT-LARGE BERTH
The 12th and final spot in the 5A playoffs is chosen among fourth-place finishers in the two 5A SIC pods, the third-place finisher in northern Idaho and the fourth-place team in eastern Idaho. The team with the best record against opponents with 1,280 or more students — the minimum number to play in Idaho’s 5A classification — earns the at-large berth.
Heading into the final week, only three teams have a chance.
▪ Kuna clinches the at-large berth with a win at home against Timberline on Friday, based on a 4-3 record versus large-school opponents. It would then face the Pod B runner-up in the first round.
▪ If Kuna loses, the at-large berth goes to the loser of the Post Falls-Coeur d’Alene game Friday. Post Falls is 3-2 and Coeur d’Alene 4-3 against large-school opponents entering the week.
Playoff berths: Four
Clinched berths: Bishop Kelly
Champion: Bishop Kelly
Eliminated: Caldwell, Mountain Home, Ridgevue
Scenarios: Three-time defending state champ Bishop Kelly wrapped up the conference title last week with a 50-21 win over Skyview. It received a bye into the quarterfinals, where it will play at home.
The rest of the conference gets tricky. For simplicity, we’re going to assume Emmett beats Mountain Home and Skyview beats Ridgevue on Friday. Either would be a major upset, let alone both. The key game is Middleton at Vallivue.
The conference’s second- and third-place finishers host first-round playoff games, while fourth place will be on the road.
▪ If Vallivue beats Middleton, Vallivue, Skyview and Emmett are all tied at 5-2. When a three-way tie can’t be broken with head-to-head results, the conference uses a point differential (capped at 14) of the games between the tied teams.
In this scenario, Vallivue (+3) clinches second place while Emmett (-1) takes third and Skyview (-2) fourth. Middleton is eliminated.
▪ If Middleton beats Vallivue, Skyview takes second place (5-2, with win over Emmett), while Emmett (5-2) finishes third and Middleton (4-3) fourth. Vallivue (4-3) is eliminated with the head-to-head loss to Middleton.