By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
With two weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture in prep football is clearing.
Five teams (Wagoner, Vian, Checotah, Stigler and Warner) have playoff plans in place with business to take care of in terms of where they fall in the bracket. Hilldale is all but a lock but with district title hopes still alive. Fort Gibson is a win away from sewing up a postseason berth but is looking to improve positioning, as is Webbers Falls.
Muskogee, Sequoyah, Haskell and Eufaula have hopes, but with a lot of work ahead.
Tahlequah in 5A, Keys in 3A, Hulbert in 2A, Porter and Gore in A, Porum in B and Midway in C are playing the string out.
Here’s the scenario going into week nine:
• Muskogee: Yes, the Roughers (1-7, 1-4 District 6A-2) are still mathematically alive, but barely, for fourth place and the final playoff slot. Wins against Putnam City and Bixby could do it if they make up the tiebreaker points. To do that, Muskogee would need a 52-point differential with Bixby 6-2, 3-2), which plays Jenks next week. Muskogee and Jenks wins by 15 would force the Roughers to beat Bixby by 11 at home or to win and have Sapulpa (5-3, 2-3) lose its final two games (to Broken Arrow and Edison).
• Wagoner: Wins in either of its final two clinch the 4A-3 title for the Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0), who own the tiebreaker edge against other playoff hopefuls.
• Fort Gibson: It’s district title and home playoff game hopes all but gone, the likely scenario for the Tigers (5-3, 3-2 4A-4) will be a third or fourth-place finish depending on their outcome with Sallisaw (6-3, 4-1), which currently shares first with Cascia Hall and Poteau, both of which have already beaten Fort Gibson. Fourth place would mean a trip to Wagoner in the first round, which the Tigers would clinch with a win against Stilwell (3-5, 2-3) this week.
• 3A-7 (Hilldale, Sequoyah): Hilldale (6-2, 3-1) could still miss out entirely in the highly unlikely scenario of losing out with Sequoyah (4-4, 2-2) and last-place Westville remaining. Would clinch with a victory in either but could still win the district via a tiebreaker if Lincoln Christian (5-3, 3-1) beats unbeaten Locust Grove this week and Sequoyah in week 10. Sequoyah, whose loss to Jay on Friday was a direct hit on the Indians’ hopes, must win one of its final two to get in.
• 3A-8 (Checotah, Stigler, Eufaula): The key game here is Checotah-Spiro in Week 10. If Spiro (7-1, 5-0) wins, it takes first and would give Stigler (6-2, 4-1) the opportunity to claim the runner-up spot with wins against Valliant and Idabel. Given the Panthers should be significant favorites in both matchups, a Checotah (7-1, 4-1) loss to Eufaula (3-5, 2-3) this week would end the Wildcats’ hopes of anything higher than third place. The Ironheads need wins against Checotah and Heavener to sneak in as the fourth-place team, or a split and help.
• Haskell: The picture in 2A-5 plays out this way for the Haymakers (3-5, 1-3) where all that’s left is fourth place and a first-round trip to the 2A-6 champ, either Vian or Hartshorne or possibly Panama. The Haymakers need to win out against winless Wellston and the key game being Mounds (5-3, 1-3) in the season finale. Holdenville (2-6, 1-3), with a loss already against Haskell, has Mounds this week and could send it to a tiebreaker with a win followed by a Mounds win against Haskell.
• Vian: At 8-0, 4-0, the Wolverines can clinch the 2A-6 title with a victory at Hartshorne (7-1, 4-0) and even with a loss in week 10 against Panama (6-2, 3-1), will have clinched the tiebreaker points edge unless Hartshorne went on to lose out, leaving it to a head-to-head issue between Vian and Panama.
• Warner: The Eagles (5-3, 3-1) figure to finish anywhere from first to third. Summit Christian (8-0, 5-0) and Afton (7-1, 4-0) are also in the picture. Afton hosts Warner this week and gets Summit Christian next week, so a Warner victory in week 9 with Afton winning in week 10 could send the district race to tiebreaker points.
• Webbers Falls: The Warriors (4-3, 3-2) all but ended their shot at a title with a loss against Sasakwa (6-2, 4-1) on Friday. Would clinch a playoff spot with a win against SW Covenant (4-4, 3-3) this week and could finish as high as second with two wins, including Arkoma (5-3, 4-2) in week 10 and a Sasakwa loss.