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Baney's Bracketology
Brandon Delves DEEP to uncover which teams will be playing in November
Published: 10/14/2021 3:07:29 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster

Follow @Brandon_Baney on Twitter


With the Idaho high school football postseason a little more than two weeks away, I've been itching to break down which teams are in and which teams are on the bubble.  

I'll go one classification at a time, separating teams into three different categories:

Already Clinched - These are teams that have officially clinched playoff spots.  While there position on the seed line might be in doubt, their participation in the postseason is not.

Pretty Much Locks - These are teams that haven't officially clinched, but have had such strong seasons that their fanbases can start planning for the playoffs.

On the Bubble - These are teams that are fighting for one-bid conference titles, or may be among the mix of teams trying to earn an at-large spot.  Regardless, the teams in this category should probably win out to feel completely safe.

All opinions listed below are my own.  Disagree?  Send me an email at

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District 1-2:      
2 bids
District 3:         
6 bids
District 5-6:      
3 bids
1 bid

Already Clinched - Mountain View
Pretty Much Locks - Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Rocky Mountain, Capital, Meridian, Eagle, Rigby, Highland, Idaho Falls
On the Bubble - Post Falls, Skyview, Timberline, Borah, Madison

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this post, I incorrectly stated the single at-large bid in 5A would be determined by MaxPreps rating.  It could be determined by MaxPreps rating, but there are a slew of other criteria that will be considered first.

Mountain View became the first team to officially clinch a playoff spot by winning the Southern Idaho Conference's River Division.  Next Friday, they will play the champion of the SIC's Foothills Division.  Regardless of how that game goes, Mountain View has earned a first round bye in the 5A postseason by winning its division.

Rocky Mountain is currently leading the Foothills Division with a 3-0 mark.  Eagle finished 3-1 in the division, while Meridian is 2-1.  Eagle defeated Meridian head-to-head, which gives the Mustangs the edge there.  However, Meridian faces Rocky Mountain Friday night, and a Warriors win would create a three-way tie for first place in the Foothills Division.

Regardless of how things shake out, all three teams should feel good about their playoff chances.  The Foothills Division winner will play Mountain View in the SIC Championship next Friday, and enjoy the first round bye that comes with it.  The 2nd and 3rd place finishers will play the 5th and 4th place finishers from the River Division, respectively.  Right now, Centennial is 4th and Kuna is 5th.  Both have struggled this year, and because of that, the top three from the Foothills Division should all advance.

That leaves two more automatic spots up for grabs in the SIC.  Capital and Borah will play Friday, with the winner taking 2nd place in the River Division and the loser finishing 3rd.  2nd and 3rd place from the River Division would play 5th and 4th place from the Foothills Division, respectively.  Skyview is locked into 5th, while Timberline will finish 4th.  If the standings remain the same after this Friday's games (which has a good chance of occurring) the cross-division seeding games would look like this:

Skyview at Capital
Timberline at Borah
Kuna at Eagle
Centennial at Meridian

Skyview-Capital and Timberline-Borah could be tossups.  Last year, the SIC received the one at-large bid that's available, but that's no guarantee this year.  Post Falls is also in the mix for the final playoff spot.  The IHSAA will determine the single at-large bid using the following criteria:

Best winning percentage of remaining schools that meet the following:

“Big School” criteria

1. 5A Idaho School
2. Non-Idaho schools with 9-12 enrollment of 1280 or higher (grades 9-12)
3. Non-Idaho schools with and enrollment of 960 or higher (grades 10-12)

Coeur d'Alene and Lewiston are the top two teams up north, and barring a major collapse, those two should earn the Inland Empire League's two auto bids.   The Vikings and Bengals will play each other in the regular season finale next Friday.

In District 5-6, Rigby, Highland and Idaho Falls have all enjoyed fine seasons thus far.  The Trojans and Rams meet this Friday in a game that will most likely decide the conference title.  Rigby already defeated Idaho Falls, while Highland will face the Tigers in the regular season finale.  If Highland beats Rigby and Idaho Falls beats Highland, that creates a three-way tie for first.  Fortunately, three teams get to go to the playoffs from the league this year.

Madison is lurking, though.  The Bobcats play Idaho Falls on Friday, and if Madison can score the upset, they would steal the Tigers' auto bid away.  In that scenario, the Tigers would still have a strong enough winning percentage to earn the at-large bid, leaving other hopefuls like Post Falls and the SIC schools in the cold.

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District 1-2: 
    1.5 bids
District 3:          4 bids
District 4:          3 bids
District 5:          1.5 bids
District 6:          3 bids
At-Large:           4 bids

Already Clinched - Emmett, Minico, Twin Falls, Mountain Home
Pretty Much Locks - Sandpoint, Lakeland, Bishop Kelly, Pocatello, Preston, Blackfoot, Skyline, Shelley
On the Bubble - Moscow, Middleton, Nampa, Vallivue, Burley, Century, Bonneville

Emmett clinched a spot last week with their thrilling win over Middleton.  Even if Emmett stumbles over the final two weeks, they are guaranteed a top four finish in the Southern Idaho Conference. 

Bishop Kelly is in a similar boat.  A win this week would clinch a playoff berth for the Knights.

Middleton, Nampa and Vallivue are all 3-2 in SIC play.  Middleton and Nampa play each other Friday, with the winner more than likely finishing third in the SIC. 

Vallivue has the toughest road ahead, as they finish the season with Bishop Kelly and Emmett.  The Falcons have already dropped games against both Middleton and Nampa, so they would need some assistance to claim an auto bid.  Regardless, Vallivue should have a strong enough MaxPreps rating to grab an at-large spot.

In District 4, Minico, Twin Falls and Mountain Home have clinched the top three spots.  Mountain Home will finish third, while Minico and Twin Falls play next Friday in a game that will decide the Great Basin Conference title.

Up north, Sandpoint and Lakeland both boast strong MaxPreps rankings.  They meet in the regular season finale in a game that will likely decide the Inland Empire League title, although Sandpoint has to get past Moscow this Friday. 

Moscow's playoff hopes are on life support.  The Bears are currently ranked sixth in MaxPreps rating among 4A at-large hopefuls.  Their final game is Friday against Sandpoint, so an upset there would go a long way for Moscow.

Pocatello and Preston meet this Friday.  The winner more than likely gets the District 5 auto bid.  A second auto bid is available to either the 2nd place team from Districts 1-2 or District 5.  Right now, both Pocatello and Preston outrank Lakeland, and Pocatello outranks Sandpoint.  Either way, both teams are comfortably in the playoff picture.

Blackfoot, Skyline and Shelley all still have a chance to win the High County Conference.  All three have strong enough MaxPreps ratings that they should make the postseason. 

More interesting is the case of Bonneville.  After starting 0-5, Bonneville has won two in a row and currently holds the final at-large playoff spot based on MaxPreps rating.  If the Bees win out, they're in.  If not, they could get passed by Century or Burley.

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District 1:          
2 bids
District 3:         
3 bids
District 4:         
2 bids
District 5:          
2 bids
District 6:          
2 bids

Already Clinched - 
Homedale, Weiser, Gooding
Pretty Much Locks - Kimberly
On the Bubble - Timberlake, Kellogg, Bonners Ferry, Fruitland, Payette, Marsh Valley, Snake River, American Falls, Sugar-Salem, South Fremont, Teton

There is a lot to sort out still in the 3A ranks.  Homedale and Weiser are both 7-0 and will meet up this Friday.  The winner of that game wins the conference.  The loser is all but guaranteed a playoff spot as well.

Fruitland has an impressive resume this year as well.  They need to beat Payette this Friday.  Otherwise, the Pirates can steal the third bid from District 3.

In District 4, Gooding and Kimberly have established themselves as the teams to beat.  Gooding, at 2-0 in conference, has already locked up a spot.  Kimberly can clinch a spot with a win this week over Buhl.

Up north, Timberlake, Kellogg and Bonners Ferry all look solid.  Kellogg defeated Bonners Ferry last week in a tight game, while Timberlake will face the Badgers this week.  Kellogg and Timberlake will then face off in the regular season finale.  The possibility of a three-way tie at the top still exists.  The most likely scenario is Timberlake and Kellogg clinching spots this week and playing for the Intermountain League title next Friday.

Marsh Valley defeated Snake River last week in District 5.  Then Thursday, Snake River fought off American Falls to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Now Marsh Valley and American Falls meet in the regular season finale.  If the Eagles win, Marsh Valley and Snake River qualify for the playoffs.  If the Beavers pull off the upset, then we have a three-way tie for the league title.

Sugar-Salem and South Fremont meet in District 6 this Friday.  Sugar-Salem clinches a spot with a win, as they beat Teton last Friday.  After facing the Diggers, South Fremont plays Teton in the season finale.  If the Cougars win both games, they win the league.  A loss to Sugar and a win over Teton gives South Fremont the second spot in the playoffs.  A win over Sugar and a loss to Teton would create a three-way tie and Kansas City Playoff for the second year in a row.

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The five district champions earn automatic bids
The six at-large bids are then given to the six highest rated teams by MaxPreps

Already Clinched - 
Pretty Much Locks - Melba, Declo, West Side, Firth, North Fremont
On the Bubble - Grangeville, St. Maries, Orofino, Nampa Christian, Cole Valley Christian, New Plymouth, Aberdeen, Bear Lake, Soda Springs, Malad, West Jefferson

2A is kind of a mess right now.  Melba and Nampa Christian meet up this Friday.  The winner will more than likely win the Western Idaho Conference, but if Melba loses, their MaxPreps rating is high enough that their playoff spot is not in jeopardy. 

Declo in District 4 and West Side in District 5 are heavily favored to win their respective leagues.  Declo must defeat Wendell to make it official, while West Side still faces Aberdeen and Bear Lake.  Like Melba, even if the unthinkable occurs, Declo and West Side have strong enough MaxPreps ratings to earn playoff bids.

In District 6, North Fremont hosts Firth in the regular season finale next Friday.  The winner most likely wins the league, but the loser will also qualify for the playoffs due to their exceptionally strong MaxPreps rating.

In District 1-2, things are wide open.  Grangeville, St. Maries and Orofino all have sub-.500 records, and all three are 0-0 in conference.  Over the next three weeks, these three will all play each other.  It's anyone's guess as to who emerges victorious.

Assuming West Side and Declo win their leagues, and Melba, North Fremont, Firth and the District 1-2 champion all qualify, that leaves five at-large spots remaining.  Here are the contenders, listed in order of their MaxPreps rating:

Bear Lake (3.2)
Aberdeen (0.0)
Nampa Christian (-0.1)
West Jefferson (-0.3)
Cole Valley Christian (-1.0)

Should any of these teams stumble, Soda Springs, New Plymouth and Malad could leapfrog them in the rankings, though it's highly unlikely.

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The five district champions earn automatic bids
The six at-large bids are then given to the six highest rated teams by MaxPreps

Already Clinched - 
Pretty Much Locks - Prairie, Lapwai, Oakley, Raft River, Butte County
On the Bubble - Lakeside, Wallace, Genesee, Potlatch, Clearwater Valley, Kamiah, Notus, Wilder, Murtaugh, Glenns Ferry, Lighthouse Christian, Grace

Not a single playoff bid has been clinched, although Prairie can wrap up the District 2 title with a win on Friday against Genesee.  If Genesee were to defeat the Pirates, it would create a three-way tie between Genesee, Prairie and Lapwai for first place.  Lapwai lsot to Prairie last week, but has such a strong MaxPreps rating that the Wildcats can pretty much plan on a postseason appearance.

Raft River and Oakley are both undefeated and will meet next Friday in a game that should decide the regular season title.  Like Lapwai, whoever takes second will easily make the playoffs because of their superior MaxPreps rating.

Butte County will face Grace in the regular season finale next Friday.  The winner of that game will win District 5-6, and Butte County will be favored in that matchup.  Should the Pirates lose, their MaxPreps rating is strong enough that they will qualify for state.

In District 3, the winner of the Notus vs Wilder game next Friday will more than likely win the league.  If Notus loses, their MaxPreps rating is strong enough to qualify as an at-large.  Wilder's MaxPreps rating is not strong enough at this time to earn an at-large bid, so the Wildcats would need to win out to clinch.

In District 1, Lakeside defeated Wallace earlier this year.  The two will meet again next Friday.  If Lakeside wins again, they win the league.  If Wallace wins and earns a split, it becomes more complicated.  Either way, District 1 appears to be a one-bid league this year.

Assuming Notus and Butte County win their districts, coupled with Prairie, Lapwai, Oakley, Raft River and the District 1 champ all earning bids, that leaves 5 at-large bids remaining.  The five highest ranked teams according to MaxPreps rating:

Grace (47.3)
Murtaugh (36.2)
Genesee (34.6)
Glenns Ferry (26.1)
Potlatch (25.5)

Just missing the cut, currently, are:

Wilder (23.5)
Clearwater Valley (22.4)
Lighthouse Christian (19.5)
Kamiah (18.1)

Glenns Ferry will face Murtaugh and Lighthouse Christian in consecutive weeks, which could sort things out in District 4.  Same for District 2 up north, as Kamiah will play Potlatch and Clearwater Valley to close out their season.  Grace's spot appears to be the safest right now, and as those teams from Districts 2 and 4 beat up on each other, Wilder could sneak in and steal that final spot.  For all of these teams, though, the easiest way to qualify would be to win out.

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District 1:          
1 bid
District 2:          
2 bids
District 3:          
3 bids
District 4:          
4 bids
District 5-6:       
2 bids

Already Clinched - 
Mullan-St. Regis, Kendrick, Horseshoe Bend, Council, Garden Valley, Carey, Castleford
Pretty Much Locks - North Gem, Rockland, Watersprings
On the Bubble - Lewis County, Timberline, Dietrich, Hansen, Camas County 

1A D2 is the only classification level that uses a pre-determined bracket with no at-large bids.  Because of that, Mullan-St. Regis has already clinched the District 1-2 title, and Kendrick has earned a spot from District 2.

All three bids from District 3 have been locked up by Horseshoe Bend, Council and Garden Valley.  The only formality that remains is who finishes where in the final standings.  Ditto for Carey and Castleford in District 4.  The two undefeated teams meet this Friday, with the winner pretty much wrapping up the league title.  

North Gem, Rockland and Watersprings have all but wrapped up District 5-6's three bids.  Winless Mackay plays North Gem Friday night, and an upset there is the only way things could change.

District 2's second bid will be determined Friday night, when Timberline (Weippe) faces Lewis County.  The winner of that game will clinch second place in the league.

The only drama will be in District 4, where Dietrich, Camas County and Hansen are competing for two spots.  Camas County controls its own destiny, with games against Dietrich and Hansen in back to back weeks.  If Camas County were to fall to Dietrich this Friday, the Mushers game against Hansen next Friday would essentially decide the final playoff spot.


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