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Playoff Bubble Watch: Idaho High School Football PT. 3
It's the final countdown! Who is playing for their playoff lives this week?
Published: 10/18/2022 8:46:43 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


One week of regular season competition remains.  Several conference titles were claimed a week ago, but the fact remains: the teams on the bubble will be fighting for their playoff lives this weekend.

We'll take one final look 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

Post Falls 6-2 2-0
Lewiston 6-2 1-1
Meridian 8-0 5-0
Eagle 6-2 6-0
Rocky Mountain 7-1 4-1
Nampa 6-2 5-1
Middleton 6-2 3-2
Mountain View 4-4 4-2
Highland 5-3 2-0
Rigby 6-2 1-1

Projected At-Large

Owyhee 4-4 2-4
Borah 4-3 2-3

On the Bubble

Madison 5-2 1-0
Kuna 3-4 1-4
Coeur d'Alene 4-3 1-0

Projected Matchups

(N1) Post Falls, (W1A) Meridian, (W1B) Eagle and (E1) Highland receive first-round byes

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

The top four seeds have all officially been locked up.  Eagle will travel to Meridian on Friday for the SIC Championship Game.  Both teams automatically receive first round byes.  The Warriors defeated the Mustangs 36-14 earlier this year, but the rematch could be interesting.

Post Falls and Highland officially locked up their conference titles, as well.  Even with losses this week, the Trojans and Rams have gone 2-0 against the teams that would potentially tie them at the top.

As for the rest of the Southern Idaho Conference, the final week of the season will feature four different cross-divisional games that will determine the other four auto bids from District 3.  Here are the matchups:

(River 5) Borah at (Foothills 2) Rocky Mountain
(Foothills 5) Centennial at (River 2) Nampa
(River 4) Kuna at (Foothills 3) Middleton
(Foothills 4) Capital at (River 3) Mountain View

All of the home teams should be considered heavy favorites, with Kuna-Middleton being the closest potential matchup.

Owyhee finished sixth in the SIC's River Division and will battle winless Timberline, the sixth place team from the Foothills Division, in a "layup" game that could boost the Storm's 5A winning percentage.

The second auto bids from up north and in east Idaho are also fairly simple to calculate.  Lewiston hosts Coeur d'Alene, while Rigby hosts Madison.  The winners clinch the auto bids; the losers await their fate for one of two at-large bids.

So let's get to it.  Which of the teams on the bubble stand the best chance of grabbing a 5A at-large bid?  Remember, the first criteria used is winning percentage against other Idaho 5A schools or non-Idaho schools with 5A enrollment numbers.  

Factoring in that Kuna could upset Middleton, let's look at the resumes and 5A winning percentages for the eight teams that could find themselves fighting for an at-large bid.  Records listed here will assume that the team on the bubble lost their respective games this week, with the exception of Owyhee, who is playing a winless Timberline team.

Middleton (5-3, .625)

WINS - Nampa, Thunder Ridge, Timberline, Capital, Centennial
LOSSES - Rocky Mountain, Meridian, Kuna

Owyhee (5-4, .556)

WINS - Madison, Centennial, Boise, Kuna, Timberline
LOSSES - Mountain View, Eagle, Borah, Nampa

Rigby (3-3, .500)

WINS - Coeur d'Alene, Sky View (UT), Thunder Ridge
LOSSES - American Fork (UT), Highland, Madison

Borah (4-5, .444)

WINS - Capital, Timberline, Owyhee, Boise
LOSSES - Nampa, Kuna, Mountain View, Eagle, Rocky Mountain

Lewiston (2-3, .400)

WINS - Capital, Lake City
LOSSES - Layton (UT), Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene

Madison (2-3, .400)

WINS - Tooele (UT), Thunder Ridge
LOSSES - Owyhee, Highland, Rigby

Kuna (3-5, .375)

WINS - Centennial, Borah, Boise
LOSSES - Eagle, Nampa, Mountain View, Owyhee, Middleton

Coeur d'Alene (1-5, .167)

WINS - Lake City
LOSSES - Rigby, Rocky Mountain, Union (WA), Post Falls, Lewiston

It's apparent that Kuna, Madison and Coeur d'Alene need the auto bid.  A loss this week, and they are out.  Honestly, Lewiston is probably in the same boat.

Right now, Owyhee is projected to get in as an at-large team.  While their SIC brethren battle better opponents for playoff positioning, the Storm get an easier matchup against Timberline, almost assuring that Owyhee will be in the playoffs.  To be clear, that's not Owyhee's fault; the overall system could probably be tweaked to avoid something like this happening again.

Borah is also projected to get in by a whisker over Lewiston and Madison, as they played an entire schedule of 5A opponents this year. 

Lewiston may have to consider whether to continue rivalry games with Moscow and Clarkston (WA) in the future, as those schools are too small to be considered in the at-large formula.  

Madison's season opening loss to Owhyee stings.  And while the 4A teams in District 6 are excellent opponents, in the 5A at-large formula those games are worthless.  The Bobcats may also have to consider how they put together a schedule in the future.


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 4-3 2-0
Bishop Kelly 8-0 4-0
Emmett 6-2 3-1
Minico 7-1 4-0
Twin Falls 7-1 4-0
Pocatello 3-4 1-0
Skyline 5-3 3-1
Shelley 4-4 3-1

Projected At-Large

Blackfoot 4-4 2-2
Lakeland 6-2 0-1
Burley 5-3 2-2
Hillcrest 4-4 2-2
Vallivue 4-4 3-2
Bonneville 3-5 1-3
Skyview 2-6 1-2
Canyon Ridge 5-2 2-2

On the Bubble

Idaho Falls 2-6 1-3
Century 1-6 1-0

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

Bishop Kelly and Sandpoint are the only conference champions that have officially clinched their league titles. 

Minico and Twin Falls will play on Friday for the District 4 title.  The loser will get the second auto bid, so both have clinched top eight seeds regardless.

Likewise, Skyline and Shelley will play on Friday. Whoever wins the matchup wins the District 6 crown.  If Skyline loses, the Grizzlies will finish second and still have a top eight seed.  If Shelley loses, it gets a little messier.  If Shelley loses and Hillcrest defeats Idaho Falls, the Knights would leapfrog Shelley for second place.  And that's not factoring in Blackfoot.  The Broncos play Bonneville, and a Blackfoot win, coupled with a Hillcrest win and Shelley loss, would create a three-way tie for second place.

Essentially, all six teams from District 6 still have a great chance to qualify for the playoffs.  Idaho Falls is currently out based on MaxPreps ratings, but a win over Hillcrest would vault the Tigers firmly in.  Even with a loss, they could still surpass the teams ahead of currently (Canyon Ridge and Skyview).

The Hawks finish the year with Bishop Kelly, while Canyon Ridge wraps up with Burley.  A win would put both teams in, of course, but there's no guarantee that a loss would keep them in the playoffs.  The MaxPreps formula is too volatile and impossible to calculate, so again, a win is the most straightforward path for Skyview and Canyon Ridge.

Finally, in District 5, Pocatello hosts Century in a game that will decide the league title.  Whoever wins this game is pretty much locked into the eight seed overall.  Pocatello still makes the playoffs with a loss, while Century's MaxPreps rating is too low for an at-large bid.  The Diamondbacks must win this game to qualify for the postseason.


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

Projected At-Large

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


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) Homedale receive first round byes

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

We may regret saying this, but the 3A playoff field appears to be done and dusted.  All we have to figure out is where each team ends up on the seed line.  The teams that theoretically would be on the bubble (Payette and Filer) are so far behind in the MaxPreps ratings that it's almost impossible for them to catch up to Timberlake (currently the last at-large team).

Homedale (District 3), Buhl (District 4) and Snake River (District 5) officially won their leagues last Friday, and will receive top five seeds because of it.  Sugar-Salem will face South Fremont on Friday for the District 6 title, while Bonners Ferry and Timberlake will do the same for District 1 supremacy.


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 5-3 3-0
St. Maries 2-5 2-1
Melba 6-1 2-0
Cole Valley Christian 4-3 2-1
Declo 3-4 0-0
Bear Lake 6-1 3-0
West Side 6-1 2-1
North Fremont 5-2 2-1
Firth 5-2 3-0

Projected At-Large

Aberdeen 5-2 2-1
Soda Springs 2-6 1-3

On the Bubble

Nampa Christian 3-4 2-1
Wendell 4-4 0-0
West Jefferson 4-3 2-1

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) Bear Lake, (2) Firth, (3) Melba, (4) Declo and (5) Kellogg receive first round byes

(9) Cole Valley Christian at (8) North Fremont
(10) Soda Springs at (7) Aberdeen
(11) St. Maries at (6) West Side

Kellogg has officially claimed the District 1-2 title. 

The District 4A crown will come down to Friday's battle between Declo and Wendell.   

Firth took a massive step toward the District 6 championship with a win over North Fremont last week.  However, Firth battles West Jefferson on Friday, and a loss to the Panthers could create a three-way tie for first between the three squads.  West Jefferson would need to finish in either first or second in that scenario, as a third place finish won't garner them an at-large bid.

The same scenario exists in District 5.  Bear Lake defeated West Side in September, and the Pirates defeated Aberdeen last Friday.  Bear Lake concludes its season against the Tigers, and an Aberdeen win would create a three-way tie.  A Bear Lake win would give the Bears the league crown and place West Side second.  Unlike District 6, though, all three of these teams are comfortably in.

In fact, District 5 has been so strong this year that the league is currently projected to grab both at-large bids.  Soda Springs may be 2-6, but with losses to Bear Lake, Aberdeen and West Side (all top five teams in the MaxPreps rating), the Cardinals have a strong enough rating to get the last bid.

St. Maries officially grabbed the second bid out of District 1-2.  The Lumberjacks finish the year with Orofino and even if they fell to winless Maniacs, they own head-to-head tiebreakers over Grangeville and Priest River, the two teams that could possibly tie with them for second place.

Wendell needs to win their lone conference game against Declo on Friday.  It's an all-or-nothing proposition, as the Trojans' MaxPreps rating isn't strong enough to catch Soda Springs for the final at-large slot.  If Wendell were to claim victory, Declo would grab an at-large bid and Soda Springs would be left at home.

In District 3, Nampa Christian plays Melba on Friday.  If the Bulldogs could spring the upset, it would create a potential three-way tie for first place between the Trojans, Mustangs and Cole Valley Christian.  Nampa Christian would need to finish first or second in that tiebreaker, as we're not sure that a win over Melba would improve their MaxPreps rating enough to leapfrog Soda Springs (it certainly could, but no one knows how the MaxPreps formula is calculated, so forecasting how much a team will move is tricky).


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 7-1 6-0
Clearwater Valley 6-2 5-1
Lapwai 4-3 3-3
Notus 6-1 3-0
Idaho City 2-5 2-1
Oakley 6-1 5-0
Raft River 5-2 4-1
Carey 5-2 4-1
Butte County 5-1 1-0

Projected At-Large

Grace 6-1 1-0
Lighthouse Christian 2-5 2-3
Murtaugh 4-3 2-3

On the Bubble

Potlatch 4-3 3-3
Prairie 3-4 3-3
Logos 3-5 2-4
Rimrock 3-3 2-1

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) Butte County, (3) Kamiah and (4) Notus receive first round byes

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

Oakley and Kamiah have officially clinched their district championships.  Notus can win District 3 with a victory over Rimrock, while the winner of Grace and Butte County will win District 5-6.

All of those teams are comfortably in, though.  The story in 1AD1 hasn't changed much over the past few weeks.  Lighthouse Christian and Murtaugh continue to have a stranglehold on the final two at-large bids, and we don't think there's anything the teams from District 2 can do about it.

Clearwater Valley officially has clinched second place in the Whitepine standings, and Lapwai, with a win over Genesee on Saturday afternoon, can sew up the third auto bid from the district.

Prairie picked a bad time to suffer through injuries, as the Pirates have dropped back-to-back contests against Clearwater Valley and Lapwai. 

The Pirates need to defeat Logos on Friday, and have Lapwai lose to Genesee to clinch a bid.  Even if Potlatch defeats Kamiah, they will have the same league record as Prairie, and the Pirates won the head-to-head matchup.

Potlatch can also get in with a win over Kamiah plus a Lapwai loss and a Prairie loss.

Now check this out: If Lapwai loses to Genesee, Potlatch defeats Kamiah, Prairie defeats Logos and Troy defeats Clearwater Valley, there would be a massive four-way tie for the third and final playoff spot.  All four teams would have 3-4 records, but....Lapwai would still get the third bid because the Wildcats defeated all of those teams.  

But what if Logos beats Prairie?  Lapwai, Potlatch, Logos and Troy would all have identical 3-4 records, but....we're told Lapwai would still have the third bid.  Essentially, any tiebreaker scenario favors Lapwai.

In District 3, the Idaho City Wildcats defeated Rimrock last Friday to put themselves in position to grab the second auto bid to state.  Rimrock needs to defeat Notus to even have a chance to get in now, as a Raiders win would force a three-way tie for first.  But it would have to be a convincing win, as the Pirates have the edge in point differential by a significant margin.


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 7-2 6-0
Clark Fork 5-3 5-2
Kendrick 8-0 2-0
Lewis County 5-2 1-1
Council 6-2 4-0
Garden Valley 6-1 3-1
Horseshoe Bend 5-3 3-2
Dietrich 4-0 7-0
Castleford 6-1 3-1
Camas County 5-2 2-2
Watersprings 4-3 1-1
Rockland 3-4 1-0

On the Bubble

Timberline  2-4 1-1
Tri-Valley 3-1 4-2
Hansen 3-3 2-1
North Gem 3-4 0-1

Projected Matchups

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

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

Here's what we know: 

Mullan-St. Regis and Clark Fork are officially seeds 1A and 1B
Kendrick is officially seed 1B
Council and Garden Valley are officially seeds 3A and 3B
Dietrich and Castleford are officially seeds 4A and 4B

That leaves one bid from District 2, one bid from District 3, one bid from District 4 and both bids from District 5-6 that still need to be sorted out.

Let's start with the simple ones:

In District 2, Lewis County hosts Timberline on Friday.  Whoever wins gets seed 2B.  The loser is out.

In District 4, Camas County takes on Hansen on Friday.  Whoever wins gets seed 4C.  The loser is out.

In District 3, Horseshoe Bend can earn seed 3C with a win over Meadows Valley or a Tri-Valley loss to Council.  Tri-Valley could earn seed 3C if the opposite happens.

And now the (somewhat) complicated: District 5-6.

Rockland defeated Watersprings last Friday, while the Warriors knocked off North Gem the week prior.  If Rockland defeats North Gem in the regular season finale on Friday, then Rockland earns seed 5-6A and Watersprings gets seed 5-6B.

If North Gem defeats Rockland, then there's a very messy three-way tie for first, second and third place.

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