By Michael Hicks
Things are about to get wild around here.
What am I talking about? On Monday, the Colorado High School Activities Association released the 3A football wildcard points standings, the first such listing of the season. The standings outline the wildcard points for all teams in 3A and is used as the determining factor as to which three teams from the four 3A football-playing conferences – the Tri-Valley, Metro, Southern and Western Slope – will get into the postseason, which begins the weekend of Nov. 13-14.
With just three weeks left before the end of the regular season, the time is now for teams to start jockeying for position.
While no teams have officially clinched a playoff berth, we know that the Tri-Valley Conference’s top three teams will make the playoffs. So will the top three schools from the Southern and Western Slope leagues. The top four teams make it from the Metro Conference, which will play cross-division games the last week of the season to determine those spots.
Taking that into consideration, one can outline some very realistic probabilities as far as this year’s football playoffs go. In the Metro, Valor Christian, D’Evelyn, Elizabeth and Conifer are virtual shoo-ins for the postseason. Conifer plays Summit this week, which will all but lock up the No. 2 seed in the Metro West Division. Meanwhile, Valor Christian has showdowns with Elizabeth and Ridge View Academy left that should shake out the Metro East Division standings.
The biggest playoff factor looming over the Metro is a Ridge View Academy-Centaurus battle this week. The winner will likely secure the Metro Conference East Division’s No. 3 slot and probably face the Conifer-Summit loser in Week 10 with a potential wildcard spot on the line.
In the Southern Conference, Pueblo Central, Pueblo County and Falcon look to be the top three teams. Pueblo County still has showdowns with Falcon and Pueblo Central on the slate. Nevertheless, with a two-game lead over fourth-place Canon City, Pueblo County should still get into the postseason, especially if it avoids an upset loss to Woodland Park this week.
The game to watch for here is a Canon City-Pueblo Centennial battle in Week 10. The winner could get to seven wins and be in consideration for a wildcard berth. If the season ended today, both teams, along with Moffat County (remember them) would be the three wildcard teams. So the season finale could be a do-or-die game for these two.
In the Western Slope, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Delta currently hold down the top three spots. Delta is somewhat a surprise, but with wins over Palisade and Moffat County and conference games left with lowly Montezuma-Cortez and Battle Mountain remaining it would seem to be in good shape to steal the third spot.
Just like the Southern Conference, the key here could be the fourth team. Right now Palisade, at 4-4 overall, is fourth with a 4-2 league mark. But Moffat County has a 5-2 record, yet still has games with Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs on the docket.
That brings us to the Tri-Valley. Mountain View and Windsor battle this week with the league championship, in all likelihood, to be decided. Both teams face stiff competition down the stretch – the Mountain Lions still have to play Northridge and Roosevelt while Windsor ends the season with Silver Creek.
Speaking of the Raptors, they’re in a three-way tie with Berthoud and Northridge for the last automatic bid. The Spartans, who have winnable games at Sterling (this week) and Frederick (regular-season finale) left, plays at Silver Creek next week with the winner most likely to be the conference’s third seed.
Berthoud may not necessarily need to run the table to get into the playoffs, but it wouldn’t hurt. A loss, any loss, could leave the Spartans out of the postseason for the first time since 2004.
But if the Spartans run the table, the Tri-Valley Conference’s third seed is theirs and a road playoff game awaits. In other words, Berthoud’s playoff future is in its own hands. It would be wise to take advantage of that. It would be a much better alternative than having to rely on a wildcard spot to get in.
3A WILDCARD POINTS
Through Week 7 of the season. Only Top 20 teams listed:
TEAM RECORD WC POINTS
Pueblo Central 7-0 51.286
Mountain View 7-0 49.143
Steamboat Springs 7-0 48.143
Valor Christian 7-0 48.143
Windsor 6-1 44.714
Pueblo County 6-1 43.000
Falcon 7-1 42.875
D’Evelyn 6-1 42.000
Elizabeth 6-1 40.000
Canon City 5-2 38.000
Conifer 5-2 37.857
Delta 5-2 37.714
Glenwood Springs 5-2 35.000
Moffat County 5-2 34.714
Silver Creek 5-2 34.571
Pueblo Centennial 4-3 31.857
Northridge 4-3 31.714
Berthoud 4-3 31.000
Ridge View Academy 4-3 28.857
Summit 4-3 28.143