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Playoff Bubble Watch: Idaho High School Football
With the playoffs just three weeks away, which teams are sitting pretty and which teams are on the bubble?
Published: 10/4/2022 1:24:01 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster
brandon@idahosports.com
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

With just three weeks of regular season competition remaining, Idaho's best high school football teams are beginning to make postseason preparations.

From here on out, we'll take a look each week at the playoff bubble, and calculate which teams are projected to appear in the playoffs and which teams are destined to stay home.

In the case of conference races that feature multiple teams tied for first place, we'll defer to the team with the higher MaxPreps rating in our projections.  Overall records are listed first, followed by conference records.

Without further ado, let's get to Bubble Watching!

CLASS 5A

Berths Available
12 overall (10 automatic, 2 at-large)

District Representation
2 bids from District 1-2 (North)
6 bids from District 3 (West)
2 bids from District 5-6 (East)
2 at-large bids (Determined by winning percentage against 5A opponents or non-Idaho opponents with 5A enrollment numbers)

Current Projected Field -
Lewiston 5-1 0-0
Coeur d'Alene 3-3 0-0
Meridian 6-0 3-0
Mountain View 4-2 4-0
Rocky Mountain 6-0 3-0
Eagle 4-2 4-0
Nampa 4-2 4-1
Capital 2-4 2-1
Madison 5-2 1-0
Rigby 5-1 0-0

Projected At-Large
Post Falls 4-2 0-0
Kuna 3-3 1-3

On the Bubble
Highland 3-3 0-0
Middleton 4-2 1-2
Borah 3-3 1-3
Owyhee 3-4 1-4

Projected Matchups
* Lewiston, Rocky Mountain, Mountain View, and Madison receive first round byes
* Capital (West 6) at Meridian (West 3); Winner to play Lewiston (North 1)
* Kuna (At-Large 2) at Rigby (East 2); Winner to play Mountain View (West 2)
* Post Falls (At-Large 1) at Coeur d'Alene (North 2); Winner to play Rocky Mountain (West 1)
* Nampa (West 5) at Eagle (West 4); Winner to play Madison (East 1)

A few things stand out in our initial breakdown.  Capital is projected to make the field right now based solely upon their standing in the Southern Idaho Conference's Foothills Division.  Since the SIC is so large, the 13-member league was broken into the Foothills Division (six teams) and the River Division (seven teams). 

For our projections, we currently took the top three teams from each division (Meridian, Rocky Mountain and Capital from the Foothills; Eagle, Mountain View and Kuna from the River).

The caveat here is that Middleton has proven to be a better team than Capital so far this year.  Right now, the Vikings sit in fourth place in the Foothills Division standings after losses to Meridian and Rocky Mountain.  Capital will finish the year with games against Middleton and Meridian, so the Vikings can leapfrog the Eagles for third place with a win on Friday.

The Foothills Division is more clear cut, with Eagle, Mountain View and Nampa emerging as the clear top three.

The final week of the regular season will be used as a cross-divisional round of playoff games.  The top teams in each division will play in the SIC Championship Game, while the #2 and #5 teams from opposite divisions will play, as will the #3 and #4 teams from each division. 

The two teams competing in the SIC Championship automatically receive first round playoff byes, along with the district champions from the North and the East.

Speaking of the East, Highland fans will be shocked to see the Rams on the bubble.  Highland has certainly looked like a playoff team this year, but the numbers don't lie: the Rams are 0-2 against 5A competition (Lehi, UT and Meridian) and 3-1 against 4A competition (Skyline, Century, Pocatello and Blackfoot).  Those 4A victories don't mean anything for Highland, unfortunately.

Highland still has its entire league schedule in front of them. starting with Friday's showdown against Rigby.  The matchup against Madison on October 14th will more thank likely serve as an elimination game, as neither will team will have played enough games against 5A competition to factor into an at-large berth.

The race up north is completely wide open, as Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston and Post Falls all figure to be in the mix.  Each of these teams have enough 5A wins built in that grabbing an at-large berth is easier than the teams from the East.  Post Falls, in particular, has several victories over Washington teams that will help them out.


CLASS 4A

UPDATE: In an earlier version of this article, we used information that was incorrectly listed in the IHSAA handbook for the 2022 season.  Instead of 12 automatic and 4 at-large bids, instead the breakdown will be 8 automatic and 8 at-large bids.  We have updated that info below.  The only thing that changes in our projections is that Bonneville now qualifies for the 16th spot instead of Skyview.

Berths Available
16 overall (8 automatic, 8 at-large)

District Representation
1 bids from District 1-2
2 bids from District 3
2 bids from District 4
1 bids from District 5
2 bids from District 6
8 at-large bids (Determined by MaxPreps rating)

Current Projected Field
Lakeland 6-1 0-0
Bishop Kelly  6-0 2-0
Emmett 5-1 2-0
Minico 6-1 3-0
Twin Falls 5-1 2-0
Pocatello 2-4 0-0
Skyline 4-2 2-0
Shelley 3-3 2-0

Projected At-Large
Blackfoot 3-3 1-1
Sandpoint 2-3 0-0
Burley 4-2 1-1
Vallivue 3-3 3-1
Hillcrest 2-4 0-2 Idaho Falls 2-4 1-1
Canyon Ridge 4-1 1-1
Bonneville 2-4 0-2

On the Bubble
Skyview 1-5 1-2
Muntain Home 1-5 0-3
Columbia 1-5 0-3
Preston 1-5 0-0
Ridgevue 1-4 1-2

Projected Matchups
The eight automatic qualifiers will automatically receive the top eight seeds; the eight at-large teams will then be seeded 9-16

* (16) Bonneville at (1) Bishop Kelly
* (9) Blackfoot at (8) Pocatello
* (13) Hillcrest at (4) Lakeland
* (12) Vallivue at (5) Emmett
* (15) Canyon Ridge at (2) Skyline
* (10) Sandpoint at (7) Twin Falls
* (14) Idaho Falls at (3) Minico
* (11) Burley at (6) Shelley

When 16 of 25 teams make the playoffs, there will be some squads in the mix with one or two wins to this point.  Honestly, even the four teams that haven't won yet are only a victory or two away, although they are running out of time.

Since 16 teams qualify, there really aren't any teams that can feel robbed if they don't qualify for the playoffs.  That's especially true with 8 at-large slots available.

Pocatello's overall MaxPreps rating is 12th right now, but by winning District 5, the Thunder would vault all the way to the fifth seed.  Pocatello's record may appear underwhelming; however, the Thunder have been injury riddled this year and have the potential when healthy to compete with anyone.


CLASS 3A

Berths Available
14 overall (11 automatic, 3 at-large)

District Representation
1 bids from District 1
3 bids from District 3
3 bids from District 4
2 bids from District 5
2 bids from District 6
3 at-large bids (Determined by MaxPreps rating)

Current Projected Field
Bonners Ferry 6-0 0-0
Weiser 6-0 2-0
Homedale 5-1 2-0
Fruitland 3-3 2-0
Buhl    5-1 2-0
Kimberly 5-1 1-0
Wood River 2-5 1-1
Marsh Valley     1-4 0-0
Snake River 3-2 0-0
Sugar-Salem 6-0 0-0
Teton 6-0 0-0

Projected At-Large
South Fremont 5-1 0-0
Timberlake 3-2 0-0
McCall-Donnelly 2-2 0-2

On the Bubble
Payette   3-3 0-2
Filer 2-4 0-2
Gooding 1-4 0-1

Projected Matchups
The five district champions automatically receive the top five seeds; seeds 6-14 will then be determined by MaxPreps rating. 
Among the five district champions, the top two MaxPreps-ranked teams will receive a first round bye; the other three will host first round playoff games
After the first round, the six first round winners will be re-seeded according to MaxPreps rating 

* (1) Sugar-Salem and (2) Weiser receive first round byes
* (9) Kimberly at (8) South Fremont
* (13) McCall-Donnelly at (4) Bonners Ferry
* (12) Fruitland at (5) Marsh Valley
* (10) Snake River at (7) Teton
* (14) Wood River at (3) Buhl
* (11) Timberlake at (6) Homedale

The 3A playoff bracket will be wonky no matter what happens.  Among the teams that are ranked in the top five in both the media and coaches polls, four of them come from just two districts; Weiser and Homedale in District 3 and Sugar-Salem and Teton in District 6. 

You also might have noticed that Marsh Valley is projected as the District 5 champ instead of Snake River; the two will play this Friday for the de facto title.  For now, though, Marsh Valley has the slightly better MaxPreps rating.

Because Wood River opted down to the 3A classification for football this year, District 4 received an extra bid, and right now, it's Wood River that is benefitting.  The Wolverines play Gooding in their regular season finale October 14th that could determine the final playoff berth from District 4.  The loser could be on the outside looking in.

Up north, the two-team league of Bonners Ferry and Timberlake will decide their league title in the last week of the season.  Both teams appear to be comfortably in right now, though.


CLASS 2A

Berths Available
11 overall (8 automatic, 3 at-large)

District Representation
2 bids from District 1-2
2 bids from District 3
1 bids from District 4
2 bids from District 5
2 bids from District 6
2 at-large bids (Determined by MaxPreps rating)

Current Projected Field
Kellogg 4-2 2-0
Grangeville 3-3 2-0
Melba 5-1 1-0
New Plymouth 3-2 1-0
Declo    2-3 0-0
Aberdeen 4-1 2-0
Bear Lake     4-1 1-0
North Fremont 5-0 2-0
Firth         3-2 1-0

Projected At-Large
West Side 4-1 1-1
Cole Valley Christian 3-3 1-1
     
On the Bubble
Soda Springs 2-5 1-2
Wendell 4-3 0-0
West Jefferson 2-3 0-1
Nampa Christian 2-4 1-1
Malad 1-5 0-2
Ririe 2-4 1-1
St. Maries 0-5 0-1


Projected Matchups
The five district champions automatically receive first round byes; seeds 6-11 for the first round will then be determined by MaxPreps rating. 

However, the 2A Football Committee has the ability to modify the bracket's first round based on extensive travel or a matchup of teams from the same district.

Among the five district champions, the top four according to MaxPreps rating will host in the quarterfinal round.

* (1) North Fremont, (2) Melba, (3) Aberdeen, (4) Declo and (5) Kellogg receive first round byes
* (9) Cole Valley Christian at (8) Firth
* (10) Grangeville at (7) Bear Lake
* (11) New Plymouth at (6) West Side

Right away, fans will point out that Bear Lake and West Side should both be ahead of Aberdeen based on the eye test.  However, the 2-0 Tigers currently lead District 5, ahead of 1-0 Bear Lake and 1-1 West Side.  The Bears already beat the Pirates by one in overtime, and appear to have the inside edge at winning the league title.  Aberdeen will finish their regular season against West Side and Bear Lake over the final two weeks of play, so we'll know a lot more then.  However, all three teams are comfortably in the playoffs at this point, even though only two will receive automatic bids.

Wendell and Declo will decide the two-team District 4 race in the season finale, although right now the Hornets have the edge in MaxPreps rating.  Wendell may have to sweat out a playoff bid if they don't defeat Declo, as teams like Soda Springs and West Jefferson will receive a MaxPreps bump due to playing in strong, top-heavy conferences.

Kellogg and Melba are the favorites to win their respective leagues, while Cole Valley Christian could leapfrog New Plymouth by defeating the Pilgrims in the regular season finale on October 21st.  New Plymouth missed out on the playoffs last year despite a 5-3 record, so the 'Grims will be especially motivated to clinch an auto bid and ensure their safety.

Up north, the battle between Grangeville and St. Maries on Friday will more than likely determine the second auto bid.  The loser could be on the outside looking in.

As for the projected first round matchups right now, the teams involved will likely change, but for now it provokes an interesting thought exercise.

With the committee having the ability to change the bracket, would they really send Grangeville all the way to east Idaho for the third year in a row?  Instead, they could send Grangeville to Cole Valley Christian, which would leave a tantalizing first round battle between Firth and Bear Lake.  How the committee handles the first round will be fascinating to watch.

 

CLASS 1AD1

Berths Available
12 overall (9 automatic, 3 at-large)

District Representation
3 bids from District 2
2 bids from District 3
3 bids from District 4
1 bids from District 5-6
3 at-large bids (Determined by MaxPreps rating)

Current Projected Field
Kamiah 5-1 4-0
Prairie 3-2 3-1
Potlatch 4-1 3-1
Rimrock 3-2 2-0
Notus 4-1 1-0
Oakley 5-1 4-0
Raft River 4-1 3-1
Carey 3-2 2-1
Grace 4-1 0-0

Projected At-Large
Butte County 3-1 0-0
Murtaugh 4-1 2-1
Lighthouse Christian 0-5 0-3

On the Bubble
Clearwater Valley 4-2 3-1
Lapwai 2-3 1-3
Logos 2-4 1-3

Projected Matchups
The four district champions automatically receive the top four seeds; seeds 5-12 will then be determined by MaxPreps rating. 

The four district champions will also receive first round byes

* (1) Oakley, (2) Kamiah, (3) Grace and (4) Notus receive first round byes
* (9) Prairie at (8) Murtaugh
* (12) Rimrock  at (5) Raft River
* (10) Potlatch at (7) Butte County 
* (11) Lighthouse Christian at (6) Carey

Fans in the Whitepine League will lament the switch in playoff format this season.  Last year, the district champions were the only teams that automatically qualified.  Every other bid was awarded based upon MaxPreps rating.  Because of the switch this year to multiple auto bids being awarded by district, Rimrock vaults ahead of Clearwater Valley, Lapwai, and Logos.  In fact, the Raiders also trail Troy, Challis-Mackay and Valley in the MaxPreps ratings as well.

That being said, Lighthouse Christian at 0-5 is in the playoff picture right now because they have played by far the most difficult schedule in all of 1AD1 football.  Strength of schedule is a major component of the MaxPreps algorithm, but at some point, the Lions need to win a few games.  They will have a prime opportunity to play themselves in as their schedule finally lightens up on the back half.

Clearwater Valley and Potlatch square off on Thursday night.  The winner has the inside track at the third playoff slot.  The loser, sadly, may not make the playoffs.  Clearwater Valley will play Prairie the following week, so this two week stretch could define the Rams' season.  Prairie narrowly defeated Potlatch earlier this year 56-52.  If the Pirates can run the table, they'll assure themselves of another year of postseason play, although last week's loss to Kamiah probably cost them the regular season title.


CLASS 1AD2

Berths Available
12 overall (12 automatic)

District Representation
2 bids from District 1
2 bids from District 2
3 bids from District 3
3 bids from District 4
2 bids from District 5-6

Current Projected Field
Mullan/St. Regis 4-2 3-0
Clark Fork 4-2 3-1
Kendrick 5-0 1-0
Timberline 2-3 1-0
Council 4-2 2-0
Garden Valley 5-0 2-0
Horseshoe Bend 4-2 2-1
Castleford 5-0 2-0
Dietrich 5-0 2-0
Camas County 4-1 1-1
Rockland 2-4 0-0
North Gem 3-3 0-0

On the Bubble
Wallace 2-2 1-2
Lewis County 3-2 0-1
Deary 1-4 0-1
Tri-Valley 3-2 2-1
Hansen 2-3 1-1
Watersprings 3-2 0-0

Projected Matchups
* (2A) Kendrick, (3A) Council, (5-6A) North Gem and (1A) Mullan-St. Regis receive first round byes
* (4C) Camas County at (5-6B) Rockland; Winner to play (2A) Kendrick
* (4B) Dietrich at (1B) Clark Fork; Winner to play (3A) Council
* (3C) Horseshoe Bend at (4A) Castleford; Winner to play (5-6A) North Gem
* (3B) Garden Valley at (2B) Timberline; Winner to play (1A) Mullan/St. Regis

Right off the bat, there's no possible way to project which teams from District 5-6 will make the playoffs.  North Gem, Rockland and Watersprings have all looked good at times this year, and have struggled at other points.  They will all play each other over the last three weeks, which will help sharpen the focus.  For now, we put North Gem as the first place team and Rockland as the second place finisher, simply because that's how they finished last year.

Although Deary and Lewis County are both 0-1 in District 2, they can clinch a playoff spot by winning out.  The road for Lewis County is the least difficult, if only because Timberline and Deary both have to play juggernaut Kendrick still, while the Eagles don't.  In all likelihood, the second playoff berth from District 2 will come down to the regular season finale between Lewis County and Timberline.

Clark Fork has a leg up on Wallace for the second spot out of District 1, as the Wampus Cats have already defeated the Miners this year.  However, the two will play again on October 14th.  A Clark Fork win there all but cinches it up.  A Wallace win would cause us to break out the calculator.

In District 3, Council, Garden Valley and Horseshoe Bend are the projected top three.  Council has already defeated HSB, while the Mustangs will host Garden Valley on Friday.  Council and Garden Valley will then meet up on October 14th.  One caveat: Tri-Valley has a chance to play there way in as well, as they will face HSB on the 14th and Council on the 21st.  It's a tough road to hoe, but it's possible for the Titans.

In District 4, Castleford and Dietrich collide this Friday in a game that will decide the league title.  The Wolves defeated Camas County last Friday, while Dietrich will get their turn at the Mushers on the 14th.  Hansen, like Tri-Valley in District 3, has an outside chance at running the table and playing their way into a playoff spot.  They will play Castleford on October 14th and Camas County on the 21st.  Again, easier said then done, but we're sayin' there's a chance.


 








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