By Greg Perkins
With the turn of the calendar to October, Friday night football games begin to take on more meaning for those teams vying for playoff positioning. Just one month of the regular season is left and all four area teams have at least an outside chance to reach the post-season in their respective divisions.
The team with the longest odds to make the post-season would be the Roadrunners. With Walden Grove, a brand new school, and Chinle making up two of their final four games Holbrook could be looking at a four-win season, which would put the Birds close to the top 16 in power points. In order to secure a playoff spot they will most likely need to pick up a win against either St. Johns or Round Valley to sneak into one of the bottom tier seedings.
Tonight (Oct. 5) they will be traveling to St. Johns to take on a team that is only 3-3 on the season, although that record is a bit misleading. In four of their six games played the Redskins have pretty well mirrored the results of the Roadrunners. Both teams were shut out by Blue Ridge in similar fashion. Both lost to Snowflake and Show Low, although the Redskins kept those games much closer than did Holbrook. Both have registered big wins over Window Rock.
The biggest difference in this game will be the overall status and tradition of the programs. Coach John Bokker and his staff are trying to build a program, and the team has shown improvement since the inception of the season in some areas. Tonight they are going up against a storied St. John’s program that has been very strong for the past two decades under the direction of head coach Mike Morgan. St. Johns may be playing in a lower division than Holbrook, but the Redskins have been competing at a higher level for much longer. Combining that with the fact they will be playing on their home field gives the Redskins the edge in this contest, although Holbrook should keep it closer than last year’s 42-6 loss.
After facing Blue Ridge, Show Low, St. Johns and Winslow in the past four weeks, the Lobos will feel like they have the night off tonight when they welcome in Page. The Sand Devils come in with just two unimpres-sive wins against four losses. Last year Snowflake made the long trip to Page and handed the home team a 47-0 shutout. Chase Walden has returned to what was an already good team and playing at Lobo Stadium, he and the rest of the starters may not see much playing time as Snowflake should jump out to a big early lead, cruising to another lopsided win.
Winslow suffered a big setback last week at the hands of the Lobos and tonight things won’t get any easier when the Bulldogs travel to Cougar Country to take on an unbeaten Show Low team coming in ranked second in the state behind Blue Ridge. These two squads played a great game last year in Winslow, which was eventually won by Show Low, 28-14. The Bulldogs enter with a 4-2 mark and is expected to make the state playoff field, but they have a tough task tonight. An upset win would do wonders for their seeding and confidence, but on paper the Cougars have the better team again this year. Like last week, this game gives the Bulldogs an opportunity to see how they stack up against one of the better teams in the division.
Joseph City has just two regular season games left on the schedule, including tonight’s long journey to Bag-dad, where they will meet up with a Sultan team boasting a 6-1 record on the year. Their only loss was to un-beaten Joy Christian. The last time these two schools met was two years ago when the Wildcats beat them twice, once in the regular season and again in the state playoffs. Bagdad usually has one of the better 1A pro-grams in the state outside of Joseph City and Mogollon, and will give the Wildcats a tough test with their high powered offense averaging 58 points per game this year. Joseph City also has just one loss and can also light up the scoreboard. This game will come down to which team has the better defense. If the Wildcat defense has the better day, Joseph City can score enough points to come away with a win in what could be a shootout.
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By Greg Perkins