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Idaho High School Football Bracketology (Three Weeks Remaining)
As we approach October, where does your favorite team land in the playoff picture?
Published: 10/4/2023 3:01:01 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster

Follow @Brandon_Baney on Twitter


Well, we've officially entered October.  For some, that means it's time to hang up the spooky Halloween decorations and buy those Costco-sized bags of candy (for the kids, of course).  But for me, it's a different type of season altogether:

That's right.  It's time to start breaking out the brackets!

Just three weeks remain in the Idaho high school football regular season (two if you play in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference.)  There aren't any official playoff bids wrapped up yet, but we can start to look ahead and examine what teams need to do to make postseason plans at the end of the month.

Obviously, with three weeks to go, a lot of ties are prevalent amongst the Idaho football landscape.  In those scenarios, I will defer to the team with the higher MaxPreps ranking.

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


District 1-2 (2 bids)

Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls

District 3 (7 bids)

Eagle, Meridian, Rocky Mountain, Boise, Owyhee, Mountain View, Borah

District 5-6 (2 bids)

Highland, Rigby

At-Large (1 bid)



E1 Highland (5-1)
W1B Meridian (4-2)
W1A Eagle (6-0)
N1 Coeur d'Alene (4-2)


W5 Owyhee (5-2) at W4 Boise (5-1)
W7 Borah (4-2) at N2 Post Falls (4-2)
W6 Mountain View (4-2) at E2 Rigby (3-3)
At-Large Middleton (4-2) at W3 Rocky Mountain (4-2)

No one has played a conference game up north yet, but it appears that Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Lewiston are all capable of beating each other on any given night.  For the moment, the Vikings and Trojans have better MaxPreps ratings, so we've included them here. 

The situation is the same in the east, where Highland, Rigby and Madison are competing for the two auto bids.  Highland and Rigby have better MaxPreps numbers, and based on our current projections, Middleton would just edge out Madison for the at-large playoff spot.  A change this year to the 5A bracket revolves around the at-large bid.  In years past, the at-large slots were awarded based upon winning percentage against 5A opponents.  This year, it will be awarded based upon MaxPreps ranking.

District 3 will once again use the final week of the regular season to hold a series of cross-divisional playoff games.  Essentially, the Foothills Division has six teams, while the River Division has seven.  The top team from each division will play in the Southern Idaho Conference Championship Game, and both will automatically receive top-four seeds and first round byes into the 5A playoffs.  The rest of the cross-divisional games will play out like this:

River 2 vs. Foothills 6
River 3 vs. Foothills 5
River 4 vs. Foothills 4
Foothills 3 vs. River 5
Foothills 2 vs. River 6

The winners of those five games will receive the District's auto bid.  One lucky loser may grab the at-large bid, but it's no guarantee.  If the season ended today (and that's a big if), here's what the matchups would look like:

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

We are projecting the winners of these games based upon which team has the higher MaxPreps ranking.  Using this data, Rocky Mountain would be the only team from the Foothills Division to earn a win.

Meridian and Rocky Mountain are both 3-0 in the Foothills Division and play this Thursday.  The winner more than likely wins the Division.  Likewise, Middleton, Capital and Centennial are all 1-2.  The Vikings play both Capital and Centennial over the last two weeks, and can wrap up third with two wins.  Centennial already defeated Capital and holds the tiebreaker there.

In the River Division, Eagle has the edge at 4-0 after defeating 3-1 Boise last Friday.  One more win would officially clinch the division.  Boise has already beaten Owyhee and Mountain View, but a loss to Borah this Thursday could complicate things.


District 1-2 (1 bid)


District 3 (2 bids)

Skyview, Bishop Kelly

District 4 (2 bids)

Minico, Twin Falls

District 5 (1 bid)


District 6 (2 bids)

Hillcrest, Skyline

At-Large (8 bids)

Skyline, Bonneville, Emmett, Lakeland, Canyon Ridge, Idaho Falls, Preston, Burley


#16 Burley (2-4) at #1 Hillcrest (6-0)
#9 Skyline (3-3) at #8 Sandpoint (3-3)
#13 Canyon Ridge at #4 Minico (5-2)
#12 Lakeland (3-3) at #5 Twin Falls (5-1)
#15 Preston (2-4) at #2 Bishop Kelly (6-0)
#10 Bonneville (3-3) at #7 Skyview (4-2)
#14 Idaho Falls (2-4) at #3 Pocatello (3-2)
#11 Emmett (4-2) at #6 Shelley (3-3)

The bracket will once again be divided up by auto bids and at-large spots.  The eight auto bids will automatically receive the top eight seeds, and will be ranked according to their MaxPreps ranking.  That's why Sandpoint, despite being a conference champ, would only be the eight seed overall.  Likewise, the eight at-large teams will then be seeded 9-16 based upon MaxPreps ranking.

For the moment, the only change I see occurring is Skyline possibly taking the second auto-bid from District 6 over Shelley.  For the moment, the Russets are still unbeaten in league play at 2-0.  However, Shelley will play Hillcrest and Skyline in their final two games of the regular season, so anything is possible.

In terms of teams on the bubble and possibly on the outside of the playoff picture, there just isn't much to discuss.  When 16 of 24 teams in the classification make the playoffs, you'll have sub-.500 teams that qualify.  Any team that doesn't clinch a playoff spot only has themselves to blame.  For reference, the winless Blackfoot Broncos (0-6) would be the first team out of the playoffs using MaxPreps rankings.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a team like Century or Moscow (currently outside of our projections) stealing an auto bid by winning their conference.  District play will begin this week up north and in south east Idaho, so we'll keep an eye on it.


District 1 (1 bid)


District 3 (3 bids)

Homedale, Weiser, McCall-Donnelly

District 4 (3 bids)

Buhl, Kimberly, Wood River

District 5 (2 bids)

Snake River, Marsh Valley

District 6 (2 bids)

Sugar-Salem, Teton

At-Large (3 bids)

American Falls, Fruitland, Gooding


#1 Sugar-Salem (6-0)
#2 Homedale (6-0)


#14 Gooding (1-5) at #3 Buhl (4-2)
#13 Fruitland (1-5) at #4 Timberlake (4-3)
#12 Wood River (3-4) at #5 Snake River (3-3)
#11 American Falls (3-4) at #6 Teton (5-0)
#10 Marsh Valley (0-6) at #7 Weiser (6-0)
#9 McCall-Donnelly (4-1) at #8 Kimberly (6-0)

The Class 3A bracket awards the top five seeds to the five district champions.  However, only MaxPrep's two highest ranked district champs will receive first round byes. The other three will have to host first round games.  The remaining seeds (6-14) are determined also using MaxPreps rankings.

Our current projections have Buhl winning District 4 over Kimberly simply because the Indians are 2-0 in conference play, while Kimberly is 1-0.  That will of course even out over time, but right now, the Indians and Bulldogs are right next to each other in the MaxPreps rankings, essentially meaning that whoever wins the conference has a great shot at the #3 overall seed.

Like Class 4A, a large number of teams in the 3A classification qualify for the playoffs (14 of 19), so any team that misses out can only look in the mirror.  There's a winless team as our #10 seed right now, for crying out loud.  That said, South Fremont (1-5) and Filer (0-6) are the closest to breaking into the playoff field at this moment.  Both have games against much higher-ranked teams coming up, so in theory, they could play their way in with a strong win or two.

And while it's fun to joke about a winless team making the playoffs, Marsh Valley has played an extremely rigorous schedule thus far, which is why they are ranked #10 despite being 0-6.  There's a good chance the Eagles pick up a win somewhere in their final three games.  If they don't, they will inevitably be passed by other teams behind them, and would obviously have to sweat things out.


District 1-2 (1 bid)

St. Maries

District 3 (1 bid)

Nampa Christian

District 4 (1 bid)


District 5 (1 bid)

West Side

District 6 (1 bid)

North Fremont

At-Large (6 bids)

Melba, Aberdeen, Bear Lake, Firth, Wendell, Ririe


#1 Declo (6-0)
#2 West Side (4-1)
#3 North Fremont (4-1)
#4 Nampa Christian (4-2)
#5 St. Maries (2-4)


#11 Ririe (2-3) at #6 Melba (4-1)
#10 Wendell (5-2) at #7 Aberdeen (4-1)
#9 Firth (2-3) at #8 Bear Lake (2-3)

We've finally reached a classification where good teams will definitely be sitting at home.  This is a unique bracket that awards the five district champions the top five seeds and a first-round bye.  The remaining six bids are then awarded to MaxPreps' six highest ranked teams, with one new caveat: No district shall receive more than two at-large bids.  This will have major implications, which we'll explain below.

In terms of district champs, for the moment, Nampa Christian is 2-0 in District 3, while Melba is 1-0.  Regardless of who wins the league, they would still slot in as the #4 seed overall. 

Same story up north in District 1-2, where St. Maries and Grangeville are both 1-0 in conference play.  For the moment, the Lumberjacks have the higher MaxPreps ranking, so we've included them in our projections. But this league is only going to get one team into the postseason.  St. Maries is currently ranked 14th overall in MaxPreps, while Grangeville is 18th. And wouldn't you know it?  St. Maries hosts Grangeville on Friday.  The winner more than likely gets the one playoff spot from up north.

So let's cut to the chase: Because of the wrinkle that states any given District can only receive two at-large bids, a deserving team from District 5 will be left out.  For the moment, that's Malad.  Despite the Dragons ranking 10th in overall MaxPreps ranking, they are behind West Side (2nd), Aberdeen (5th) and Bear Lake (7th).  Malad finishes their season with Bear Lake and West Side.  A win is probably needed for Malad to feel secure about their spot.  For comparison's sake, last year District 5 sent four teams to the playoffs (Bear Lake, West Side, Aberdeen and Soda Springs).  Repeating that feat is simply not possible this year.

So who benefits from this new rule?  Right now it's Ririe.  The Bulldogs would be the third and final team to qualify from District 6, but there's no shortage of teams breathing down their necks for the last at-large playoff spot.  Marsing (4-2), Cole Valley Christian (2-4), West Jefferson (0-5) and New Plymouth (3-3) are all within striking distance.


District 2 (3 bids)

Logos, Kamiah, Potlatch

District 3 (2 bids)

Notus, Idaho City

District 4 (3 bids)

Oakley, Lighthouse Christian, Murtaugh

District 5-6 (1 bid)


At-Large (3 bids)

Butte County, Carey, Valley


#1 Oakley (5-1)
#2 Logos (6-0)
#3 Grace (5-1)
#4 Notus (4-1)


#12 Idaho City (1-4) at #5 Butte County (5-1)
#11 Valley (3-3) at #6 Lighthouse Christian (4-1)
#10 Potlatch (4-1) at #7 Kamiah (4-1)
#9 Carey (1-4) at #8 Murtaugh (4-1)

The 1AD1 bracket rewards each of the four district champions with an automatic top four seed and first round bye.  This greatly benefits Notus, who jumps from 11th overall in the MaxPreps rankings to the number seed overall by virtue of being District 3's best team.

Speaking of District 3, that's the elephant in the room amongst 1AD1 fans.  For the second consecutive year, District 3 will receive two automatic bids to state, gobbling up a bid that could go to a more deserving team.  And that's not just my opinion; it's what MaxPreps says too.  Consider the three teams that could take that second auto bid.  Out of 22 1AD1 teams, Wilder is ranked 22nd, Idaho City is 20th, and Rimrock is 19th.

Raft River, Lapwai, Prairie, Clearwater Valley, Glenns Ferry, Challis and Troy are all teams currently ranked ahead of that trio that would be forced to watch the playoffs from home.  For the moment, Idaho City gets that second spot by virtue of their 1-0 conference record, but the Wildcats still have to play Notus and Rimrock.  Honestly, the second spot from District 3 likely comes down to the winner of Idaho City and Rimrock in the regular season finale on October 20th.

Meanwhile, it's getting late early for 1AD1 playoff mainstays Raft River, Prairie and Lapwai.  At this point, those three would have to outright steal a bid by defeating a team ranked higher than them to earn a seat at the playoff table.  Lapwai and Prairie play each other this Friday in a de facto knockout game. If Lapwai wins that game, they could take third place in District 2 with a win over Potlatch the following Friday (October 13th).  If Prairie wins, their playoff hopes would rest in an upset win over undefeated Logos in the season finale on October 20th.

Raft River has a very interesting three-game sprint to the end of the season: at Murtaugh, home against Butte County and home against Carey.  Three wins would put the Trojans in.  Heck, even two wins over Murtaugh and Carey would do the trick.  In fact, a win against Murtaugh this Friday could really muddy the picture for the third and final auto bid from District 4.


District 1 (2 Bids)

Mullan/St. Regis, Lakeside

District 2 (2 Bids)

Kendrick, Deary

District 3 (3 bids)

Council, Garden Valley, Tri-Valley

District 4 (3 bids)

Camas County, Hagerman, Dietrich

District 5-6 (2 bids)

Rockland, North Gem


1A Mullan/St. Regis (6-0)
2A Kendrick (4-0)
4A Camas County (4-1)
5-6A Rockland (4-2)


5-6B North Gem (4-2) at 4B Hagerman (4-2)
4C Dietrich (3-2) at 3A Council (3-3)
3C Tri-Valley (3-2) at 1B Lakeside (3-3)
2B Deary (3-2) at 3B Garden Valley (5-1)

Ah, simplicity.  Idaho's smallest classification is the only one to not use at-large bids, so what you see is what you get.  Nothing has officially been clinched yet but here's where things stand with three weeks to go.

In District 1, Mullan/St. Regis' win over Lakeside last Friday puts them in the driver's seat for the league title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  The Tigers have already swept Clark Fork twice, and with a win over Lakeside again on October 13th, the Tigers would officially wrap things up.  In fact, even a loss by the right amount of points would still give the Tigers the title.  As for the second auto bid, Lakeside's 37-16 win over Clark Fork earlier this year puts the Wampus Cats in a precarious spot.  Clark Fork would not only need to win the rematch on October 20th, but they would need to be on the right side of the tiebreaker also.

Kendrick and Deary are technically both 1-0 in District 2 play, but let's be real here: Kendrick is winning the league.  The more intriguing battle is between Deary and Lewis County to see who gets the second auto bid.  They play in Craigmont on October 13th, with the winner most likely taking the second spot.

Garden Valley and Council are both 2-0 in District 3 play.  We awarded the auto bid in our projections to Council, who boasts a slightly better MaxPreps ranking.  Tri-Valley is 2-1 in the league, while Horseshoe Bend is lurking at 1-1.  Council has already defeated Tri-Valley and Horseshoe Bend, and with a win over Garden Valley on October 13th, the Lumberjacks would pretty much cinch up the District 3 championship.  Horseshoe Bend, Garden Valley and Tri-Valley all face each other over the final three weeks, and that's how the final two slots will be decided.  In fact, there's a world where Garden Valley goes 0-3 against Horseshoe Bend, Council and Tri-Valley over the final three weeks, and misses the playoffs altogether.  Tri-Valley at HSB on October 13th will also be a must-watch game.

If you don't like math, you probably should stay away from District 4.  Camas County is 2-0, while Dietrich, Hagerman, Castleford and Hansen are all 1-1.  Needless to say, we're going to find out a lot over the next three weeks, but key results already in the books are:

Camas County wins over Hagerman and Hansen
Hagerman's win over Dietrich
and Dietrich's win over Castleford

Based upon those results, we slotted Camas County, Hagerman, and Dietrich, in that order, into our projections.  But honestly, the entire thing could be blown up this Friday, when Castleford plays Hagerman and Dietrich plays Hansen.

Finally, in District 5-6, North Gem took a big step towards wrapping up a playoff berth with their 28-22 win over Mackay last Friday.  The Cowboys play Rockland in the regular season finale on October 20th in a game that will most likely decide the district title.  Mackay would need an upset win over Rockland this Friday to try and force their way in.  A Rockland win over the Miners would pretty much wrap it up for Rockland and North Gem.

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