Playoff games are tricky enough, but the job for four 5A Southern Idaho Conference football coaches got a lot tougher this week.
Both state semifinals Friday night are rematches of hotly contested regular-season games from weeks one and two, only this time the losers don’t have a season to regroup. They simply go home.
Championship berths are up for grabs when Capital (9-1) hosts Rocky Mountain (9-2) at Dona Larsen Park, and Eagle (10-0) welcomes Mountain View (9-2) to Thunder Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. for both games.
If their first meetings are any indication, games will go down to the wire.
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EAGLE VS. MTN. VIEW
It was the first game of the season for both teams, and there were perhaps as many miscues as touchdowns when Eagle eked out a 22-19 win at Mountain View on Aug. 26.
Senior quarterback Slayter Jeffries threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Cole Christensen with 1:57 remaining, and both teams left the field knowing they had significant work ahead.
“It was a very tight game. I think it could have gone either way,” Eagle coach Paul Peterson said. “We got a huge break with a fumble with about five minutes to go, and it gave us the opportunity, otherwise I think we were in trouble that night.”
Peterson anticipates Friday’s semifinal could hinge on another late-game break.
“Everyone knows what’s at stake,” Peterson said. “It’s going to come down to some detail somewhere late in the game where that’s going to swing the tide.”
Mountain View has been on both sides of the coin. Last year, the Mavericks beat Rocky during the regular season and lost to the Grizzlies in the state championship.
This year, the Mavericks have used their season-opening loss as a learning opportunity and motivating tool.
“Probably the biggest takeaway is how important the turnover battle is,” Mountain View quarterback Tucker Rovig said. “In that game we had more turnovers than they did, and it cost us.”
CAPITAL VS. ROCKY
As the final seconds ticked off, linebacker Peyton Pettigrew leveled Capital quarterback Drew Korf as he attempted a pass.
Rocky Mountain’s Trevor Manu stepped in front of that pass for an interception, sealing a 38-33 win on Sept. 1.
While Korf and the Eagles have their eye on redemption, the defending state champion Grizzlies would prefer the second meeting has the same outcome with less drama.
“Anytime you play somebody a second time, you have the previous film to go back and look at,” Rocky Mountain coach Scott Criner said. “You’re looking at end zones, splits, all that kind of stuff. It’s what wrinkles are you going to bring and what wrinkles are they going to bring, and who can make the adjustment once they see it.”
In that first game, Capital raced out to a 23-7 lead in the second quarter before Rocky Mountain rallied for a 28-26 halftime lead it never surrendered. The Eagles have won eight in a row since.
“Rocky Mountain, they are a tough team. They play every snap as hard as they can,” Korf said. “What I think it is going to come down to is who makes the least mistakes.”