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Playoff Bubble Watch: Idaho High School Football PT. 2
Several teams officially clinched playoff bids last week. How much did the landscape change?
Published: 10/10/2022 11:08:18 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


We're down to the final two weeks of regular season play, and although the playoff picture became clearer last week, there's still a lot to unpack.

During the next two weeks, 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!


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

Coeur d'Alene 4-3 1-0
Post Falls 5-2 1-0
Meridian 7-0 4-0
Eagle 5-2 4-0
Rocky Mountain 6-1 3-1
Mountain View 4-3 4-1
Middleton 5-2 2-2
Nampa 5-2 4-1
Highland 4-3 1-0
Madison 5-2 1-0

Projected At-Large

Borah 4-3 2-3
Rigby 5-2 0-1

On the Bubble

Owyhee 4-4 2-4
Lewiston 5-2 0-1
Kuna 3-4 1-4

Projected Matchups

(N1) Coeur d'Alene, (W1A) Meridian, (W1B) Eagle and (E1) Highland receive first-round byes

(W6) Nampa at (W3) Rocky Mountain; winner to play (N1) Coeur d'Alene
(#2 At-Large) Rigby at (E2) Madison; winner to play (W1B) Eagle
(#1 At-Large) Borah at (N2) Post Falls; winner to play (W1A) Meridian
(W5) Middleton at (W4) Mountain View; winner to play (E1) Highland

What a difference a week makes.  After just missing the cut in last week's projection, Highland took matters into their own hands with a stunning 43-42 comeback win over Rigby.  That has propelled the Rams into the driver's seat in District 5-6.  A win over Madison this Friday would seal up the conference title.  A win by the Bobcats would almost do the same, although they still have to play Rigby in the regular season finale.

As for the Trojans, they are now cast into a mix of teams that have similar resumes.  Rigby can make it all moot by winning their last two games and taking the second auto bid, but for the moment, they're firmly on the bubble along with several teams from District 3 and Lewiston from District 1-2.

The Bengals dropped a 42-35 heartbreaker to Post Falls last Friday, and the regular season finale against Coeur d'Alene could be a de-facto elimination game.  The Vikings defeated Lake City and will play Post Falls on Friday night; if Post Falls wins, they pretty much wrap up the regular season title.  A Coeur d'Alene victory would put the Vikings in a good spot to make the playoffs.

Again, the criteria used to determine the 5A at-large teams are different from others.  The first criteria used is winning percentage against other Idaho 5A schools or non-Idaho schools with 5A enrollment numbers.  Borah's 4-3 mark is slightly better than the rest of the field, so the Lions are in for now. 

Lewiston (2-2), Rigby (2-2), and Owyhee (4-4) are all .500 against such opponents, so we have to move to the next criteria.  The next criteria is head to head win; that doesn't apply to any of these squads.  Next up is record against common opponents.  Again, no luck there, although if Lewiston had played Madison, we could have settled things.  The next criteria is point differential against 5A schools, including out-of-state opponents (with a maximum differential of +9).  

Using the point differentials, Rigby (+13) edges out Owyhee (+9) and Lewiston (+2).  Needless to say, it would behoove the Trojans and Bengals to earn their spot via the auto bid.

Owyhee's regular season has already concluded.  They'll have a bye this week before next week's SIC Divisional contests.

As a reminder, the Southern Idaho Conference (District 3) broke up their league into the River and Foothills Divisions.  The 1st place teams from each division will face off in the SIC Championship Game.  Eagle and Meridian clinched their spots last week, and will automatically receive first round byes into the 5A playoffs as a result.

The other matches will feature the 2nd place team from each division facing the 5th place team from the opposite division.  The 3rd and 4th place teams will do the same.  The winners of those four matchups clinch the four remaining auto bids from District 3.

The 6th place teams from each division will also play each other, although no playoff spot is attached to that contest.

Here are the current projected SIC Divisional matches:

Meridian (#1 Foothills) vs. Eagle (#1 River)
Centennial (#5 Foothills) at Mountain View (#2 River)
Owyhee (#5 River) at Rocky Mountain (#2 Foothills)
Capital (#4 Foothills) at Nampa (#3 River)
Borah (#4 River) at Middleton (#3 Foothills)
Kuna (#6 River) vs. Timberline (#6 Foothills)

Middleton clinched third place in the Foothills with last week's win over Capital, while Owyhee clinched the fifth spot in the River by beating Kuna.  Ironically, by losing to Owyhee, Kuna will now play a winless Timberline team in their divisional contest, which provides an easy chance at another 5A win, which could help them in their fight for an at-large bid.  Even so, the Kavemen can't lose again this year and still need some help to get in.

Mountain View and Nampa will play the only game of consequence this week in the SIC.  The winner gets second place in the River Division; the loser takes third.


Berths Available

16 overall (8 automatic, 8 at-large)

District Representation

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

Current Projected Field

Sandpoint 3-3 1-0
Bishop Kelly 7-0 3-0
Vallivue 4-3 3-1
Minico 7-1 4-0
Twin Falls 6-1 3-0
Century 1-6 1-0
Skyline 5-2 3-0
Shelley 4-3 3-0

Projected At-Large

Blackfoot 3-4 1-2
Emmett 5-2 2-1
Lakeland 6-2 0-1
Burley 4-3 1-2
Pocatello 2-4 0-0
Hillcrest 3-4 1-2
Idaho Falls 2-5 1-2
Bonneville 2-5 0-3

On the Bubble

Skyview 1-6 1-2
Canyon Ridge 5-1 2-1
Preston 1-6 0-1

Projected Matchups

The 8 automatic qualifiers will automatically receiver the top 8 seeds; the 8 at large-teams will then be seeded 9 through 16.  Every seeding position is based on MaxPreps rating

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

Fans will wonder why Canyon Ridge at 5-1 is on the bubble, but several sub-.500 teams are comfortably in.  The answer is strength of schedule.  It makes a difference.  Playing in a tough league like the High Country Conference elevates everyone to the point that all six members are projected to make it in right now.  Of course, Canyon Ridge can play their way in with wins over Twin Falls and Burley in the final two weeks of the season.

Century is the District 5 champ for now by virtue of their win over Preston last Friday.  Preston will play Pocatello this Friday before Century and Pocatello face off in the season finale.  There could be a three-way tie for first, or Century or Pocatello could claim it outright.  Presently, Century and Preston both need the auto bid to make the playoffs; their MaxPreps rating is too low otherwise.

In District 3, Emmett plays Vallivue on Friday in a game that will decide second place and the auto bid that comes with it.  Both teams are comfortably in, but Emmett would be the 5 seed right now with an auto bid, so there is a lot to play for there.

Everything else is pretty much sewn up at this point, although most teams should plan on winning out just to be safe.


Berths Available

14 overall (11 automatic, 3 at-large)

District Representation

1 bid 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 7-0 0-0
Homedale 6-1 3-0
Fruitland 4-3 3-0
Weiser 6-1 2-1
Buhl 6-1 2-0
Kimberly 6-1 2-0
Wood River 2-6 1-2
Snake River 1-0 4-2
Marsh Valley 0-1 1-5
South Fremont 6-1 1-0
Sugar-Salem 6-0 0-0

Projected At-Large

Teton 6-1 0-1
Timberlake 4-2 0-0
McCall-Donnelly 3-2 1-2
On the Bubble

Filer 3-4 1-2
Payette 3-4 0-3
American Falls 0-6 0-0

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) Homedale and (2) South Fremont receive first round byes

(9) Kimberly at (8) Teton
(13) McCall-Donnelly at (4) Buhl
(12) Fruitland at (5) Snake River
(10) Timberlake at (7) Weiser
(14) Wood River at (3) Bonners Ferry 
(11) Marsh Valley at (6) Sugar-Salem

Of all the classifications, 3A appears to be the most settled.  Barring major upsets over the final two weeks, the field is more or less set.  Wood River claims the third spot from District 4 by virtue of their win over Filer earlier this year, although they can't slip up against Gooding this Friday.

Snake River defeated Marsh Valley last Friday in a game that essentially decided the District 5 title.  South Fremont defeated Teton 28-26, and now have put themselves in position to play for the District 6 title in the regular season finale against Sugar-Salem.  The Diggers face Teton;  a Timberwolves win would potentially force a three-way tie for the district title, but all three are comfortably in the playoffs. now.

The big showdown between Homedale and Weiser last week went to the Trojans.  Fruitland will play Homedale and Weiser in back-to-back weeks to close out the year, so although nothing is official in District 3, all three of the top teams are safely in the playoffs.
The three at-large teams all have comfortable leads in the MaxPreps ratings and would need to seriously stub their toe down the stretch to lose their playoff spots.
And to be clear, the three teams on the bubble need to score significant upset wins to move the needle.  Filer finishes with 2A Declo and league leader Buhl.  Payette plays McCall-Donnelly on Friday night.  And American Falls can only secure a playoff spot via the auto bid.  And while the Beavers are 0-6, technically they play both Marsh Valley and Snake River, and could still win the league title.


Berths Available

11 overall (8 automatic, 3 at-large)

District Representation

2 bids from District 1-2
2 bids from District 3
1 bid 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 4-3 2-0
Grangeville 3-4 2-1
Melba 6-1 2-0
Nampa Christian 3-4 2-1
Declo 2-4 0-0
Aberdeen 5-1 2-0
Bear Lake 5-1 2-0
North Fremont 2-0 5-1
Firth 4-2 2-0

Projected At-Large

West Side 5-1 1-1
Cole Valley Christian 3-3 1-1

On the Bubble

Soda Springs 2-5 1-2
Wendell 4-4 0-0
West Jefferson 3-3 1-1
St. Maries 1-5 1-1
New Plymouth 3-3 1-1

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) Aberdeen, (3) Melba, (4) Declo and (5) Kellogg receive first round byes

(9) Cole Valley Christian at (8) Firth
(10) Nampa Christian at (7) Bear Lake
(11) Grangeville at (6) West Side

This playoff field will definitely change over the next two weeks.  By the letter of the law, some teams are currently in simply because they have played more conference games than their opponents.

A prime example is Grangeville.  The Bulldogs lost a key matchup against St. Maries last Friday.  It was the first win of the year for the Lumberjacks, but St. Maries is now in the driver's seat for the second auto bid from District 1-2.  Wins over Priest River and Orofino over the final two weeks will vault the Lumberjacks in and bump Grangeville out.

Nampa Christian from District 3 is another example.  The Trojans lost to Cole Valley Christian earlier this year, essentially ceding the second auto bid to the Chargers.  Cole Valley finishes with games against Marsing and New Plymouth to conclude the year.

Speaking of New Plymouth, a win over the Chargers could create a three-way tie between the 'Grims, Cole Valley and Nampa Christian.  New Plymouth did lose to Nampa Christian in a key game last Friday, though.

One thing is for certain: District 5 is getting 3 teams in: Aberdeen, Bear Lake and West Side.  That leaves one at-large bid essentially open, and right now, according to MaxPreps rating, Soda Springs could be the fourth team from District 5 to qualify for the playoffs.  A similar scenario happened two years ago in 2A football with every team from District 5 making the playoffs.

Unfortunately for Wendell, what has been a remarkable season for the Trojans will probably come down to their regular season finale against Declo.  A win would give Wendell the auto bid from the two-team District 4.  Otherwise, their MaxPreps rating just isn't strong enough to compete with the other at-large hopefuls.

Assuming Cole Valley Christian takes the second auto bid from District 3 instead of Nampa Christian, the Chargers would move into an auto bid slot, and Soda Springs would take the second and final at-large playoff berth.  Nampa Christian would be the first team out in that scenario.


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 bid from District 5-6
3 at-large bids (determined by MaxPreps rating)

Current Projected Field

Kamiah 6-1 5-0
Clearwater Valley 5-2 4-1
Prairie 3-3 3-2
Notus 5-1 2-0
Rimrock 3-2 2-0
Oakley 5-1 4-0
Raft River 5-1 4-1
Carey 4-2 3-1
Butte County 4-1 1-0

Projected At-Large

Grace 5-1 0-0
Murtaugh 4-2 2-2
Lighthouse Christian 1-5 1-3

On the Bubble

Lapwai 3-3 2-3
Potlatch 4-2 3-2
Logos 3-4 2-3

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) Notus and (4) Butte County receive first round byes

(9) Lighthouse Christian at (8) Murtaugh
(12) Rimrock at (5) Raft River
(10) Clearwater Valley at (7) Grace
(11) Prairie at (6) Carey

A week ago, Clearwater Valley was on the bubble.  After a resounding Thursday night win over Potlatch, the Rams are all alone in second place in the Whitepine League and are firmly in control of their own destiny.  For the moment, Prairie earns the third auto bid by virtue of their head to head win over Potlatch, but last week's loss to Lapwai hurts.  Speaking out for the Wildcats.  They take on Potlatch Friday in a game that could give ultimately give Lapwai the third auto bid.

No matter what happens up north, it's becoming increasingly clear...only three teams are going to get in to the playoffs from the Whitepine League this year. 

In District 4, Lighthouse Christian earned their first win of the year, and moved up two spots in the overall MaxPreps ratings (from #11 to #9).  Grace and Murtaugh have basically locked up playoff spots at this point, and Lighthouse Christian would need to lose to both Glenns Ferry and Murtaugh to lose their at-large spot.  In fact, even if Glenns Ferry defeats Lighthouse Christian on Friday, the Pilots could easily surpass the other Whitepine hopefuls and take the last auto bid.


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 5-2 4-0
Clark Fork 4-3 3-2
Kendrick 7-0 2-0
Lewis County 4-2 1-1
Council 5-2 3-0
Garden Valley 6-0 3-0
Tri-Valley 3-1 4-2
Dietrich 3-0 6-0
Castleford 5-1 2-1
Camas County 5-1 2-1
Watersprings 4-2 1-0
Rockland 2-4 0-0

On the Bubble

Wallace 4-2 3-2
Timberline  2-4 1-1
Horseshoe Bend 4-3 2-2
Hansen 3-3 2-1
North Gem 3-4 0-1

Projected Matchups

(2A) Kendrick, (3A) Council, (5-6A) Watersprings and (1A) Mullan-St. Regis receive first round byes

(4C) Camas County at (5-6B) Rockand; winner to play (2A) Kendrick
(4B) Castleford at (1B) Clark Fork; winner to play (3A) Council
(3C) Tri-Valley at (4A) Dietrich; winner to play (5-6A) Watersprings
(3B) Garden Valley at (2B) Lewis County; winner to play (1A) Mullan/St. Regis

Here's what we know: 

Mullan-St. Regis and Kendrick have officially clinched league titles in Districts 1 and 2.

Wallace and Clark Fork play on Friday.  The Wampus Cats already defeated the Miners earlier this year, so another Clark Fork win wraps up the second auto bid from District 1.  A Wallace win creates a tiebreaker.

The second auto bid in District 2 will come down to the regular season finale in two weeks between Lewis County and Timberline.

The District 3 crown will be decided Friday when Council hosts Garden Valley.

Horseshoe Bend and Tri-Valley play Friday night in a game that essentially decides the third bid from District 3.

Dietrich faces Camas County on Friday.  A win by the Mushers could create a three-way tie for the league title.  A win by Dietrich wraps up the title for the Blue Devils.

Castleford faces Hansen.  After this battle, the Huskies will take on Camas County.  If Hansen wins out, they take second in the league.  Even if Hansen only wins one, they could take the auto-bid (depending on what happens between Camas County and Dietrich).

Watersprings defeated North Gem Friday in the first league game of the year in District 5-6.  The Cowboys now have just one shot remaining, and it comes in two weeks against Rockland.

Rockland plays Watersprings on Friday.  A Warriors win gives Watersprings the crown and makes next week's North Gem-Rockland showdown a battle for the second slot.  If Rockland wins, then North Gem will need to beat the Bulldogs on October 21st to force a three-way tie.

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