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O’Roark Oracle: Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs

Hey, folks.

Well.. it’s that time of the year: leaves begin to fall, 30-degree high means t-shirts and shorts and cabin fever causes everyone to go purchase snow tires all at once (there’s actually no correlation between those last two points).

O’Roark

“Ha, good one Luke. You’re absolutely hilarious.”

BUT.. it also means playoff football is looming.

And this crap — AKA projecting state tournaments — is making my head spin.

So, hear we go. I’m gonna try and breakdown each local classification as quickly as possible.

In 5A, its still (technically) anyone’s for the taking. Highland is beginning to peak at the right time and Madison is playing the right team at the right time. Rigby and Hillcrest are creeping on “must-win” mode, but both offenses are exciting enough to keep them in competition. And Bonneville… well, poor Bees. Three of the five teams in District 6 get a spot, and those three right now: Highland, Madison, Rigby.

In 4A, Skyline finally looks like the team all of us “media elitists” drooled over. Their offensive line is one of the best, if not the best, in 4A and that alone will help the Grizzlies come playoff time. A win this week solidifies a top spot in this area. Idaho Falls is young, talented and disciplined. It will be interesting how they do Friday, as the Knights-Tigers could be a fun contest when Hillcrest moves down to 4A next year. Blackfoot, while favored to beat Preston this week, is on the outside looking in.

4A District 5-6 schools looking solid: Skyline is safe. Pocatello, Century and Idaho Falls are battling out for the final two spots. I.F. has a safe bet of making the playoffs.

For 3A, the bracket is odd: two teams from District 6 make it. Two teams from District 5 make it, too. Then there’s an at-large bid. Shelley is a lock and a win this week puts the Russets in the driver’s seat for the top seed from District 6. With a win against Teton, Sugar-Salem is in a lock for a spot too — setting up a dramatic final week of the regular season between Sugar-Salem and Shelley. A win this week for Snake River gives them a spot in the playoffs, too.

2A is simply a mess. Since there are three spots for all three teams between Districts 1 and 2 (Grangeville, St. Maries and Orofino) that means a local team from District 5 or 6 with a winning record may miss out on the playoffs. Yes, three teams make it from District 6, but two teams won’t make it and Salmon’s win last week makes things very sticky in 2A.

For 1A Division 1, things get even more yucky since three teams from Districts 4, 5 and 6 get a playoff berth. There’s a total of nine teams between those three districts. Someone, unfortunately, is getting their feelings hurt. As of right now, though, Challis — the only 1A Division I District 6 school — is looking good to make the playoffs.

And for 1A Division II, there’s four spots for District 5-6 and eight teams. Butte County, for sure, is the only one safe for now.

Anyways, my head hurts from looking at all these brackets (the Idaho High School Activites Association also needs to make all this easier). Here are my picks for the week.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH:

Braden Youngstrom, senior RB, Rigby.

Derek Marlowe, senior WR, Hillcrest.

Dalton Clark, senior QB, Hillcrest.

Tanner Clayton, senior QB, Rigby.

Todd Payne, senior DE, Idaho Falls.

Cameron Conrad, junior RB, Idaho Falls.

Mason Price, senior WR, Shelley.

Braxton Ramirez, senior flex, West Jefferson.

Austin Good, senior WR/P, Rigby.

Jordan Porter, junior QB, Madison.

Hayden Crapo, senior QB, Sugar-Salem.

Dylan Kaasa, senior OL, Skyline.

Daniel Helsley, senior OL, Skyline.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Highland (5-1, 2-0 5A) at Rigby (6-1, 1-1 5A)

Rigby’s high-powered offense will have to handle a Highland defense that has given up just 75 points in six games.

The Trojans average 44 points a game, but they may not reach that mark come Friday.

I’ll see everyone in Rigby.

Highland 29, Rigby 27.

Mackay (1-3) at Watersprings-Clark County (4-2)

The Warriors didn’t play last week because Camas County forfeited. But Watersprings-Clark comes out and bests a Mackay team that lost by 32 last week.

Watersprings-Clark 35, Mackay 21

Madison (5-2, 1-2 5A) at Bonneville (2-5, 0-2 5A)

Madison will look to bounce back from an ugly loss last week to Highland. Bonneville, meanwhile, tries to get its first conference win this season.

I think the Bobcats prove too much for the Bees.

Madison 32, Bonneville 28

Oakley (4-1) at Challis (6-1)

A very good game in 1A between the Hornets and Vikings. Oakley’s offense hasn’t been stopped all season but I’m sure Challis is up to the task.

Challis 37, Oakley 30

West Jefferson (4-2, 1-1 2A) at Firth (3-3, 1-1 2A)

An important Nuke matchup. I think the Panthers’ double-wing offense runs past Firth.

West Jefferson 35, Firth 28

Hillcrest (5-2, 1-2 5A) at Idaho Falls (4-3, 3-1 4A)

This one doesn’t mean much playoff wise, but it will be interesting to see how Hillcrest responds after losing last week’s triple overtime thriller. Idaho Falls, meanwhile, will lean on 1,000-yard rusher Cameron Conrad.

Hillcrest 29, Idaho Falls 26

Blackfoot (1-6, 0-3 4A) Preston (1-6, 0-4 4A)

Both these teams haven’t won since week one of the regular season. But Blackfoot only has to stop Jonny Thames this week… and I think they do.

Blackfoot 21, Preston 17

North Fremont (4-2, 1-1 2A) at Ririe (5-2, 2-1 2A)

North Fremont’s Garrett Hawkes broke his lower leg, causing some turmoil for the Huskies’ season. Ririe takes advantage and wins its third in a row.

Ririe 28, North Fremont 14

American Falls (2-4) at Snake River (3-3)

Snake River has started to click late and win by small margins over the past three weeks. The Panthers do it against Friday at home.

Snake River 20, American Falls 10

Shelley (5-1) at South Fremont (4-3)

This is going to be a good 3A matchup. South Fremont competes, but can’t beat one of the best 3A schools in Idaho.

Shelley 28, South Fremont 21

Sugar-Salem (5-1) at Teton (2-5)

Sugar-Salem won a nail biter last week. The Diggers win a little bit more handily this week.

Sugar-Salem 34, Teton 17

Skyline (5-2, 4-0 4A) vs. Pocatello (4-3, 2-1 4A)

The late game on this week’s schedule, Skyline can wrap up the conference’s top spot (in the District) this week against Poky. I think the Grizzlies do.

Skyline 40, Pocatello 33

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