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Baney's Bracketology (Final Week)
Lots of playoff spots still need to be earned in the final week of the regular season
Published: 10/17/2021 6:41:36 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, Rocky Mountain, Rigby
Pretty Much Locks - Lewiston, Meridian, Eagle
On the Bubble - Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Capital, Skyview, Timberline, Borah, Kuna, Centennial, Highland, Idaho Falls, Madison

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, Rocky Mountain.  Regardless of how that game goes, Mountain View and Rocky Mountain both earned first round byes in the 5A postseason by winning their respective divisions.

The other four auto bids from the SIC will be decided by cross-divisional games.  The 2nd place finisher in each division will play the 5th place finisher from the opposite division.  The 3rd and 4th place teams will do the same.  Here are those matchups:

Skyview (#5 Foothills) vs. Borah (#2 River)
Timberline (#4 Foothills) vs. Capital (#3 River)
Kuna (#5 River) vs. Eagle (#2 Foothills)
Centennial (#4 River) vs. Meridian (#3 Foothills)

I think Eagle and Meridian should both comfortably advance, as Kuna and Centennial are a combined 3-13.  The other two matchups are complete tossups.  The winners of Skyview-Borah and Timberline-Capital would automatically qualify.  The losers would have to fight with the likes of the 3rd place team from District 1-2 and the 4th place team from District 5-6 for the one and only at-large bid.

Post Falls threw a wrench into everyone's plans up north when they defeated Coeur d'Alene on Friday.  Both the Trojans and Vikings are 1-1 in district play, while Lewiston is 2-0.  Lewiston plays Coeur d'Alene on Friday, while Post Falls takes on Lake City.  If Post Falls and Lewiston win, they earn the two auto bids, while Coeur d'Alene would have to sweat out the lone at-large berth.  If Coeur d'Alene defeats Lewiston, and Post Falls wins, that would create a three-way tie at the top of the league standings.  That tie would be settled via the Kansas City Tiebreaker.  If Coeur d'Alene wins, and Post Falls loses to Lake City, then the Vikings and Bengals earn the auto bids, while Post Falls would have to earn the at-large bid.  In the case of a three-way tie, the Coeur d'Alene Press reports that a Kansas City Tiebreaker would settle that tie on Monday in Moscow.

In District 5-6, Rigby officially clinched one of the three automatic bids with their win over Highland last Friday.  They can officially clinch the district title and the first round bye that accompanies it with a win over Madison on Friday. Even with a loss, Rigby can still win the league, provided Idaho Falls defeats Highland.  If Madison defeats Rigby and Highland beats Idaho Falls, that would create a three-way tie for the conference crown between the Bobcats, Trojans and Rams.  

Madison played itself into the playoff picture with their win over Idaho Falls last week.  If the Bobcats lose to Rigby, and Highland defeats Idaho Falls, then the league finishes like this:

1. Rigby
2. Highland
3. Madison

If Madison loses to Rigby, and Idaho Falls defeats Highland, that would create a three-way tie for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place spots.  In that scenario, Madison, Idaho Falls and Highland would all be 2-2 in the league, with wins against one another.  In an email, Highland Athletic Director Travis Bell explained how that three-way tie would be broken:

We have a 13 point system similar to the State 9 point system for football.
Right now HHS is +13, Madison -13, Idaho Falls -4
If IF beats Highland they would be #2  and Highland 3 if Madison loses to Rigby.
The point system is used to throw out lowest team with points and then it goes back to head to head with the other two teams.

In that scenario, Madison would be the odd team out.  So the Bobcats will of course try to win their game with Rigby.  If they lose, they would become instant Highland fans.

With Districts 1-2 and 5-6 still largely unsettled, there will be a lot of teams competing for the only at-large bid.  The final playoff berth will come down to the 3rd place team from District 1-2, the 7th place team from District 3, or the 4th place team from District 5-6.

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)

Here is how the 5A at-large contenders stack up heading into the final week of the season, based on the criteria above:

Lewiston (6-0)
Borah (5-2)
Highland (4-2)
Coeur d'Alene (4-2)
Timberline (4-3)
Capital (4-3)
Post Falls (3-3)
Madison (3-3)
Idaho Falls (1-2)
Skyview (2-4)

Even with a loss, and possible third place finish, Lewiston is still in comfortably.  Every other team would need help to get in.  At the bottom, Skyview and Idaho Falls are out of the running for an at-large bid.  There are simply too many possible scenarios listed here, but for schools that control their own destiny, like Lewiston, Post Falls, Highland, Madison and the SIC schools, the easiest path to the playoffs is to win this weekend.

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

Emmett and Bishop Kelly have clinched two of the four automatic bids from District 3.  In fact, Emmett clinched the league title with their win over Columbia last Friday.  Similarly, Bishop Kelly has clinched second place in the SIC.

Nampa is 4-2 in league play, while Middleton and Vallivue are both 3-3.  Two of those teams will grab the final two auto bids from District 3.  However, the 5th place finisher will have a high enough MaxPreps ranking to qualify as one of the four at-large teams.

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 Friday in a game that will decide the Great Basin Conference title.

Up north, Sandpoint and Lakeland both boast strong MaxPreps rantings.  They meet in the regular season finale in a game that will decide the Inland Empire League title, although both have high enough MaxPreps ratings to comfortably grab an at-large bid.

Pocatello defeated Preston this past Friday, giving the Thunder the inside track for 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 Preston outranks Lakeland, while Sandpoint outranks the Indians.  Either way, all four of those teams are comfortably in.  The one wild card could be Century.  Right now the Diamondbacks are among the first teams out (along with Moscow) according to MaxPreps.  Moscow, however, is done playing this season, while Century takes on Pocatello on Friday.  If the Diamondbacks could pull off a major upset, that win would likely be enough to vault Century past a few other teams in the MaxPreps rankings and into an at-large berth.

Blackfoot, SkylineShelley and Bonneville are all tied for first place in District 6 with 2-1 records.  The Broncos, Grizzlies and Russets all have strong enough MaxPreps ratings to qualify for the playoffs.  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 defeat Blackfoot, coupled with a Shelley win over Skyline, then Bonneville would win the District 6 title.  Of course, a win over Blackfoot period would be more than enough to give the Bees the final at-large playoff bid.  Even with a loss, it appears the only team capable of catching Bonneville would be Century, and the Diamondbacks would need to defeat Pocatello.  Still, Bonneville would prefer to take matters into their own hands.

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

Homedale defeated Weiser last week, keeping the Trojans' undefeated record intact, while also giving them the District 3 title, and the first round bye that comes with it.  Weiser, meanwhile, clinched a second place finish.  After that, things get more complicated.  Fruitland had their playoff destiny in their own hands, and promptly fumbled it.  After a reported incident of hazing last Thursday, the Grizzlies were without 11 varsity players for Friday's game against Payette, a game they ended up losing.  Now, Payette controls their playoff fate.  However, Fruitland and McCall-Donnelly are still very much alive.  The Pirates, Grizzlies and Vandals are all 2-2 in conference play.

This Friday, McCall-Donnelly is at Payette.  Homedale is at Fruitland.  Here's how the final playoff spot could be determined:

If Payette beats McCall-Donnelly, then the Pirates win the final bid, regardless of what Fruitland does.
If McCall-Donnelly beats Payette, and Fruitland beats Homedale, then Fruitland wins the final berth.
If McCall-Donnelly beats Payette, and Homedale beats Fruitland, then all three teams would be tied with 2-3 league records.  That tiebreaker would be settled via a Kansas City Playoff on Monday at 7:00 PM at Weiser High.

In District 4, Gooding controls their own fate.  A win over Kimberly would give the Senators the conference crown.  A loss, coupled with a Buhl win, could create a three-way tie for the league title. Meanwhile, Kimberly's playoff chances took a severe hit when the Bulldogs lost to Buhl last Friday.  Now Buhl, Kimberly and even Filer are all in play for the second place position, as well.  Buhl and Kimberly are both 1-1 in conference play, while Filer is 0-2.

This Friday, Kimberly faces Gooding, while Buhl takes on Filer.  Here's how the final playoff bid from District 4 could shake out:

If Buhl beats Filer, and Kimberly beats Gooding, that creates a three-way tie for first place.  Filer would finish fourth.  That tiebreaker would be settled via a Kansas City Playoff on Monday.
If Filer beats Buhl, and Kimberly beats Gooding, Kimberly wins the league, and Gooding takes second.
If Filer beats Buhl, and Gooding beats Kimberly, then a three-way tie will occur, with all three teams possessing 1-2 league records.  That tiebreaker would be settled via a Kansas City Playoff on Monday.

Up north, Timberlake, Kellogg and Bonners Ferry all look solid.  Kellogg defeated Bonners Ferry two weeks ago in a tight game, then fell to Timberlake last Friday.  while Timberlake will face the Badgers this week.  Timberlake can win District 1 by defeating Bonners Ferry this Friday.  Bonners Ferry would need to defeat Timberlake, and have Priest River defeat Kellogg to win the district.  The possibility of a three-way tie at the top still exists.  If Bonners Ferry defeated Timberlake and Kellogg defeated Priest River, all three would finish with 2-1 conference records.  The three-way tie would be settled via the Kansas City Tiebreaker.  

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.  That tie will be decided by a coin flip.  The winner will take 1st place in the league.  Then, the two remaining teams will have a second coin flip to determine the second and final playoff spot.

Sugar-Salem wrapped up the District 6 title with their win over South Fremont on Friday.  The Cougars will now play Teton on Friday.  The winner of that contest wins the second playoff bid from District 6. 

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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 - 
West Side
Pretty Much Locks - Nampa Christian, Melba, Cole Valley Christian, Declo, Bear Lake, Firth, North Fremont
On the Bubble - Grangeville, St. Maries, Orofino, Wendell, Aberdeen, West Jefferson

What a difference a week makes.  One week after having several questions about the playoff field, in 2A, I can comfortably project 8 of the 11 spots, based upon the wide gap between contenders and pretenders in the MaxPreps rankings.  

West Side officially won the District 5 title last Friday, and are the only team to officially clinch a playoff spot.  Aberdeen and Bear Lake meet up on Thursday to determine 2nd and 3rd place in District 5.  Bear Lake currently sports the fifth best MaxPreps rating in Class 2A, so regardless of what happens, the Bears are comfortably in.  Aberdeen currently has the ninth best MaxPreps rating, and should also qualify for the playoffs.

In District 6, North Fremont hosts Firth in the regular season finale on Friday.  The winner will take the league, title but the loser will also qualify for the playoffs due to their exceptionally strong MaxPreps rating.  Right now, West Jefferson would be the final at-large team by MaxPreps rating.  The Panthers play Salmon on Friday, so a win won't help their ranking very much.  A loss would make things interesting, but again, there's a sizable gap between West Jefferson and the other at-large hopefuls according to MaxPreps.

The only wild card could come in District 4, where Declo faces Wendell on Friday for the league title.  The Hornets are heavily favored in that matchup, and Wendell doesn't have a strong enough MaxPreps rating to earn an at-large bid.  The only way the Trojans can make state is by scoring the upset over Declo.  If Wendell somehow did spring the upset, they would steal a bid from either West Jefferson or Aberdeen, the two lowest ranked at-large teams by MaxPreps.

In District 3, Nampa Christian defeated Melba last Friday, and the Trojans now control their own fate.  If the Trojans defeat Cole Valley Christian on Friday, they win the league crown.  If Cole Valley Christian wins, the Chargers would force a three-way tie between Cole Valley, Nampa Christian and Melba for first place.  Regardless of how that tiebreaker shakes out, all three teams will qualify for the playoffs based on MaxPreps rating.

In District 1-2, Grangeville took the first step towards winning the league's only playoff bid.  Simply put, no one in this District has a strong enough MaxPreps rating to earn an at-large bid, so it's league title or bust.  Grangeville defeated Orofino last week.  This week, the Maniacs will take on St. Maries.  Orofino needs to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive.  If St. Maries wins, it sets up a showdown on October 29th between the Lumberjacks and Grangeville.  The winner of that game would win the league.  If Orofino defeats St. Maries this week, then the Lumberjacks would need to beat Grangeville to force a three-way tie.  If St. Maries loses to both Orofino and Grangeville, then the Bulldogs win the league.

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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 - Lapwai, Notus, Oakley, Raft River, Butte County, Grace
On the Bubble - Lakeside, Wallace, Genesee, Potlatch, Clearwater Valley, Wilder, Murtaugh, Glenns Ferry, Lighthouse Christian

Prairie wrapped up the District 2 title with a win on Friday against Genesee.  The other conference titles will be decided this weekend, but right now, there are 7 teams that should feel good about their playoff chances.  Staying in District 2, Lapwai has a strong enough MaxPreps rating that they are in regardless of what happens, although a win against Potlatch on Friday would help their seeding.  Potlatch currently possesses the final at-large bid via MaxPreps ranking, but Clearwater Valley is breathing right down their necks.  C.V. plays Kamiah on Friday.  The Kubs' playoff hopes were essentially extinguished last week, so a win wouldn't help the Rams much in MaxPreps, but a win coupled with a Potlatch loss could be enough to move the Rams into the final playoff spot.  Genesee should feel good about their playoff hopes.  They finish with a non-conference game against Kendrick, so nothing is guaranteed, but a lot would have to happen for the Bulldogs to miss out on the playoffs.

Raft River and Oakley are both undefeated and will meet this Friday in a game that will decide the regular season title.  Whoever takes second will easily make the playoffs because of their superior MaxPreps rating.  More intriguing this week are the teams at the bottom of the league standings.  Murtaugh has completed their regular season and are securely holding onto an at-large bid based on MaxPreps.  It will be unnerving for the Devils to sit back on Friday and watch other teams try to steal their playoff spot.  Among those looking to crash the party are Glenns Ferry and Lighthouse Christian.  Both have a remote chance of grabbing an at-large bid, which is especially impressive considering Lighthouse hasn't won a game this year.

The Pilots and Lions play each other Friday.  The loser will be eliminated.  The winner would need other at-large hopefuls like Potlatch, Genesee, Clearwater Valley and Wilder to lose as well.  Even then, because of the mysterious MaxPreps rating, it could be too little too late for Glenns Ferry and Lighthouse Christian, but without knowing the exact formula MaxPreps uses, they have to be included in the playoff conversation.

Butte County will face Grace in the regular season finale on Friday.  The winner of that game will win District 5-6.  For the loser, both the Pirates and Grizzlies have such strong MaxPreps ratings, that the second place finisher will easily qualify for state as well.
In District 3, the winner of the Notus vs Wilder game on Friday will 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 the auto bid.

In District 1, Lakeside defeated Wallace earlier this year.  The two will meet again on Friday.  If Lakeside wins again, they win the league.  If Wallace wins and earns a split, the two will duke it out in a Kansas City Playoff on Monday.  Either way, District 1 will be a one-bid league this year.

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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, Timberline, Horseshoe Bend, Council, Garden Valley, Carey, Castleford, Dietrich, North Gem, Rockland, Watersprings
Pretty Much Locks - None
On the Bubble - Hansen, Camas County 

1A D2 is the only classification level that uses a pre-determined bracket with no at-large bids.  Because of that, 12 of the 13 playoff bids have already been clinched.  All that's left to sort out is where everyone will be seeded.  

Mullan-St. Regis has already clinched the District 1-2 title, and Kendrick has earned a spot from District 2.  Both Tigers squads received first round byes for winning their leagues. Timberline (Weippe) clinched District 2's second playoff bid with their win over Lewis County last Friday.  They will travel to Carey for their first round playoff game.  

Carey inched one step closer to the District 4 title with their win over Castleford last week.  The Wolves will probably finish 2nd in District 4.  Dietrich plays Carey on Friday.  A Carey win would officially give the Panthers the conference title.  A Dietrich win would create a three-way tie for first.  The only playoff bid that is in question will come from the fourth place finisher in District 4.  Camas County and Hansen play each other this Friday; the winner gets the final playoff spot, the loser stays home.

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. Garden Valley will finish third, and will travel to the loser of the Rockland-North Gem game this Friday.  Council and Horseshoe Bend will play each other Friday night.  The winner finishes first, receives a first-round bye, and will travel to Kendrick for the quarterfinals.  The loser finishes second, and will play Dietrich in the opening round of the playoffs.

North Gem, Rockland and Watersprings have wrapped up District 5-6's three bids.  Watersprings is locked into third place, and will travel to Castleford in their playoff opener.  North Gem and Rockland play Friday.  The winner takes first, and hosts the winner of the Camas County-Hansen game.  The loser finishes second, and hosts Garden Valley. 


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