By Greg Perkins
Three area teams are still jockeying for playoff position in their respective divisions tonight (Oct. 25), while one team opens post-season play on Saturday.
Joseph City was the final team to qualify for the Division VI state tournament as the 12th overall seed and will travel to Heber Saturday night to face longtime rival Mogollon, the fifth ranked team, in the opening round of the state tournament. In their meeting earlier this season in Joseph City, the Mustangs prevailed 34-6.
These two teams are no strangers to post-season play, but with Mogollon boasting a 7-1 overall mark, which includes their current six-game winning streak, the edge in this contest has to swing in their favor.
Joseph City has had an up and down season, never winning more than two games in a row while compiling a 4-4 record. The Wildcats are coming off a win last week over Fredonia, which helped them reach the state tournament.
The winner of this game will face St. David in round two next Saturday. Based on their previous meeting, as well as this game being played in Heber, the Wildcats will need to play their best game of the season to advance.
Holbrook had its four-game winning streak snapped by St. Johns last week. That loss dropped them in the power point standings to No. 14 overall. The Roadrunners need to finish in the top 16 to reach the Division V state tournament.
Round Valley comes to Roadrunner Stadium tonight with a 7-1 record. The Elks’ only loss came against Winslow by two points earlier in the season. The Elks defeated St. Johns a few weeks ago and have a vaunted running attack with big powerful running backs. Round Valley has played a similar schedule to Holbrook, with quality wins over Morenci and Williams along with the victory over the Redskins.
Holbrook lost its second leading rusher and receiver last week to injury and will need to find a way to compensate for that loss. The Birds will also need to figure out how to stop the Elks’ running game. Round Valley will be the most physical team the Birds have faced this season. Holbrook turned the ball over five times last week and has to eliminate those types of mistakes to have a chance against the Elks. If the Birds could pull off what would be considered an upset, they would certainly secure their place in the post-season. A loss would leave a lot riding on their final game of the season next week at Miami.
Winslow improved to 5-3 with last week’s victory and will easily put another mark in the win column tonight when the Bulldogs host Chinle. The Wildcats won their season opener, but have since dropped seven straight. Last season the Bulldogs won this match up 53-7 and this game may not be that close.
The Bulldogs have climbed the rankings up to number seven so far and would like to remain in the top eight in order to host a first round playoff game. Winslow is the much better team, and will show that early and often tonight.
Snowflake has played the toughest schedule of all area teams regardless of division. Tonight the Lobos continue with that trend as they welcome Show Low. Snowflake is currently ranked as the top team in Division IV. The Cougars are ranked third. Show Low has two losses on the season, but both came against highly ranked Division II opponents.
Last season this was a great game decided by a single point in Show Low’s favor. Two years ago the Lobos won this match up 28-15. Snowflake played very well in a three-point loss at Blue Ridge a few weeks ago, but Show Low easily handled the Jackets a week later. Based on that alone the edge has to belong to the Cougars. Snowflake fans are hoping their home field advantage will be enough to allow the Lobos to remain atop the standings with a big win.
Either way, Show Low, Snowflake and Blue Ridge have made a clear statement they are the three best teams in Division IV. If the power points allow the brackets to shape up the right way, they should all be around in the final two weekends of the state tournament.
By Greg Perkins