CIK Football Playoff Primer
What to watch for entering the final week of the season
The 2021 football regular season wraps up Friday, and with it comes as good a slate as we’ve seen all season long. CIK is running through what’s to come in our coverage area before the postseason hits, and we start you with class 6A.
Derby is a win away from locking up the 1 seed for the west side. The final unbeaten team across the classification has a challenging road trip to Maize South to end the season.
Manhattan, Washburn Rural, and Junction City all look primed to end the year with 7-1 marks, each with a win and loss to the other two. Lawrence Free State will join the three as a top 5 seed with a win Friday, but that’s easier said than done; rival Lawrence is waiting for them, the Chesty Lions coming off a big win over Olathe North.
Dodge City is a win over 0-7 Wichita Southeast from locking in a 6-2 mark in Glenn O’Neill’s first year at the helm, and will host a playoff game. They would be either the 6 or 7 seed. Their rival Garden City is likely to get a second crack at Wichita East after the Blue Aces beat them 50-7 earlier in the month. The host site there is to be determined, though East would have to beat 5A’s top ranked team Bishop Carroll to host round one, or see Great Bend upset the Buffaloes.
The top seed will come down to games held on Friday night. Kapaun, Hays and Bishop Carroll all enter the final game with 6-1 marks. All three winning would mean it goes to points, where KMC currently holds a slight advantage. If Hays falls on their road trip to Northwest while the two Wichita Catholic schools win, Carroll would slide into the top spot by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Crusaders.
A loss by any of the three would further create a log jam of 2 loss teams. Andover, Maize and Salina Central all project to finish 6-2, while both Northwest (vs Hays) and Heights (at Kapaun) could join them. Maize South projects to drop to 5-3 facing top ranked 6A team Derby.
Because of just how top heavy the class is, we project two teams that finish at 5-3 to be on the road to begin their postseason. Goddard Eisenhower is among that group, a team that with a win over Valley Center would enter the playoffs on a 4 game win streak.
Like in 5A, we’re projecting more than one team to finish the year tied for the top record in the West. Buhler, Wamego and Andover Central all sit at 6-1 through 7 games, and all will be favored to win Friday night. Buhler (vs Circle) and Central (Ark City) both finish with tricky games, while Wamego closes against winless Abilene. A three-way tie would mean the head-to-head win AC holds over Buhler wouldn’t matter for seeding with the Crusaders holding a sizable point advantage. The Crusaders lock up the 1 seed with a win, and Wamego is the likely 2 seed.
If the favorites above win, Mulvane would lock into the 4 line with a win over Wellington. The Wildcats are after a sixth straight win after losing to a pair of 3A unbeatens to open the season. Behind them, Augusta and McPherson play a crucial game against one another Friday. The winner would be the 5 seed and take a 6-2 mark into the playoffs, the loser falling to 5-3.
Circle has already locked in a winning season for the first time since 2004, and has won 5 games for the first time in 11 seasons. They will host a playoff game, though the opponent is to be determined. El Dorado remains in the mix for the 8 seed depending on how Independence’s game with Rose Hill falls.
With wins over both Concordia and Chapman, Riley County has locked in the top seed for D5. The Panthers and Fighting Irish will face one another Friday, the winner earning the right to host Friday night, the loser hitting the road as the third place finisher. Marysville is locked into the 4 spot.
Southeast of Saline, boasting a defense that has allowed 12 points all season, is locked into the top spot for this district. Behind them, it’s anyone’s guess as to how things fall. Goodland’s upset of Russell a week ago kept them alive despite entering the final week in 6th place out of 6 teams. Colby, Russell and Scott City could all finish with 3-2 records, while Smoky Valley could also sneak into the playoffs with a win over Russell and some help.
The district title, for the second straight season, comes down to one game. Wichita Collegiate and Andale, both at the top of 3A all season will meet Friday night with identical 7-0 records. Both will host playoff games regardless of the outcome. A win for Andale would be their 33rd straight. Hesston and Clearwater are both guaranteed playoff spots, but will meet with the winner taking third and loser fourth.
Cheney is guaranteed the district title due to their win over Holcomb two weeks ago. The Longhorns will lock in a home playoff game with a win over rival Hugoton, but an upset for the Eagles could make things interesting, causing a likely three-way tie and sending it to points. Holcomb currently holds a sizable lead over both Hugoton and Pratt in that column.
Hillsboro and Hutch Trinity will meet Friday for a district crown. The Trojans are unbeaten in district play, while the Celtics slipped up in OT last week against Haven. The Wildcats and Marion both also project to finish 3-2 in district play, meaning a Trinity loss would create a three-way tie for second and send it to points in determining seeding.
Like D5, this district also comes down to the final week to determine a champion. In the midst of a major turnaround campaign, Chaparral is a win away from a perfect regular season. The Roadrunners however must beat a red hot Kingman team, the Eagles not losing since the opener to 3A unbeaten Cheney. Garden Plain is locked into the three seed, while Belle Plaine and Douglass will meet in a de facto playoff elimination game for the final spot.
Cimarron clinched the district championship with a low scoring win over Hays-TMP a week ago. The Monarchs will host Lakin with a home playoff game on the line, both currently have 3-1 marks in district play. Ellis is locked into the 4 seed regardless of outcomes.
Three of the four west side districts in 2A come down to this final game. 2020 runner-up Hoisington has been on a roll since dropping the opener to Pratt, their toughest game since them coming with a visit to Beloit Friday. The Trojans, a projected turnaround team, have not lost since mid-September. Minneapolis is guaranteed the three spot regardless of outcomes. Phillipsburg and Norton will meet in another elimination game, the winner the 4 seed with a trip to Cimarron waiting.
Inman will hit the road to Smith Center, the Teutons bringing their historic defense to take on the Redmen for a district championship and a bye week in the playoffs. Both teams enter this one 7-0 overall. Plainville will lock up the 3 seed with a win over winless Sacred Heart. Ell-Saline would clinch a home game with a win over Ellinwood.
This district comes down to another game between unbeaten squads in district play, Sedgwick taking their 7-0 record to Conway Springs. The Cardinals dropped their season opener to 2A Garden Plain. Elkhart will face Remington for the district three seed. Stanton County could jump as high as the 4 seed with a win and Remington loss depending on point differential. The regular season matchup between the two was cancelled.
Sedan has clinched the championship. West Elk and Yates Center, both 6-1 on the year, meet Friday with a home playoff game on the line. Marmaton Valley is locked into the 4 seed.
Madison is likely to win the district even with a loss, but a win over Central Burden would clinch it. Chase County projects as the 2 seed while Flinthills, Oxford and Udall all remain alive for the final spot.
Clifton-Clyde, who still has only lost a 14-6 game to top ranked Little River, has locked up the district title. The winner between Burlingame and Doniphan West Friday will host round one as the district runner-up, while the Valley Falls/Washington County winner should finish 4th.
Defending champion Little River will take a perfect record to the playoffs with a win over Solomon Friday. They’ve won the district title. Canton-Galva would take the 2 seed with a win, eliminating Lincoln in the process. Bennington and Solomon project to round out the playoff field for D4.
The district crown here will come down to the final week. Goessel will lock it up with a win over Medicine Lodge, while a ML win could create a three-way tie along with Argonia-Attica. The Trojans project to finish 4-1 in districts, already carrying a H2H win over Medicine Lodge. Moundridge and Pretty Prairie will play an elimination game Friday.
La Crosse has locked up the district title. Macksville and Kinsley play on Friday night to determine the 2 and 3 seeds, the winner hosting next Thursday in the opening round. Pratt-Skyline locks up the 4 seed with a win over St. John.
Unbeaten Meade clinched the district title in D7, and a win Friday would eliminate Hodgeman County from postseason contention. Wichita County earns the 2 seed with a win Friday, while South Gray winning along with Spearville would create a three-way tie for second and send it to points.
The top two spots are clinched in D8, with Hill City locking up the district in their win over Trego a week ago. The Golden Eagles will still host next Thursday as the two seed. Hoxie will take on Rawlins County Friday, the winner the 3 seed and loser the 4.
Thunder Ridge has clinched the district championship, their game for Friday already won by forfeit giving the Longhorns an 8-0 regular season. Osborne is locked into the two seed, setting up a potential first round game with defending champion Hanover. Lakeside is the three seed, and St. John’s-Tipton, Pike Valley and Rock Hill all are fighting for the final playoff spot.
Victoria has won the district title by virtue of their earlier win over Sylvan-Lucas, the Mustangs the 2 seed set to host in the first round. Central Plains looks likely to take the three seed and Otis-Bison the 4, Friday results pending.
The four playoff teams for this district are known, but the order is to be determined. South Barber wins the district with a win over 0-7 South Haven, giving Caldwell the runner-up spot. The Chieftans beat the Jays a week ago. Norwich and Peabody-Burns were set to face off Friday, but that game was cancelled due to COVID issues. The Eagles look likely to get the three seed, the Warriors fourth.
Bucklin and Dighton will duke it out Friday for the top spot in D7. The Red Aces carry a perfect record into the matchup, the Hornets only dropping a non-district game to Quinter. Minneola will be the district’s three seed, while Satanta would clinch a playoff spot with a win over Minneola. A loss combined with a win for South Central would send the final playoff spot to points.
Wheatland-Grinnell’s earlier win over Quinter proved to be the difference in clinching the district for the Thunderhawks. The Bulldogs will host the first round as the runner-up. Brewster, Sharon Springs and St. Francis all remain in contention for the final two spots, those coming down to Friday’s results.
The 6-Man Semifinals will be held Saturday, the top four seeds all advanced from Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. Cunningham will host Northern Valley while Ashland goes to Natoma, the winners advancing to this year’s Wild West Bowl set for Oct. 30 in Dodge City.
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