Teams make last push for playoffs

Area high school football teams approach this week, the final week of the regular season, with differing outlooks.

Most teams realize this will be their last week — and for seniors the finality of it all is multiplied — of practice, their last Friday night under the lights, their last time in shoulder pads and helmet.

Most of the players on those teams will give it their all, trying to win the last game of the season or of their career, hoping to make one more memory to talk about 10 years — or 20 or 30 — from now at the class reunion.

For those on teams still alive in the battle for the playoffs, there still are  levels of importance to this final week. Some teams have clinched playoff berths and are working to get to host a first-round game by finishing in the top four of their region.

Others are in a situation  in which they know they are in the postseason if they win this week. Still others know they must win, but even if they do, there is no guarantee they will be in the playoffs.

One thing to remember. This late in the season a team’s point total can change significantly just through the results of the teams previously beaten in the season. For example, a team can lose a game late in the season but still have a positive gain overall if every team they beat during the season wins that particular week. By the same token, if all of those teams lose, a victory late in the season might not make that big a difference.

A quick look, by division, of the playoff possibilities for teams in the Tribune Chronicle coverage area:

Division II — Warren G. Harding (8-1) has clinched a playoff berth in Region 5 and is currently third behind Aurora and Chardon. The Raiders can lock up a home game with a win Friday at home against Howland.

Division III — Howland (7-2) has been in playoff mode since losing its first two games of the season. The Tigers, currently fifth in Region 9, control their own destiny, according to the web site, which means they are in if they win. That seems pretty obvious considering the computer points a win over Harding would provide. The question is, do the Tigers still make the playoffs if they lose on Friday.

Canfield (6-3), which lost last week to Howland, still has a faint hope of making the playoffs from the 12th spot in the region, but many things have to happen, including a Cardinal win over arch-rival Poland.

Division IV — Cardinal Mooney (6-2) is fourth in Region 13 and has clinched a berth.

Hubbard (7-2) stands sixth and should be OK, though it won’t earn a lot of points by beating Youngstown East this week. An upset loss certainly would make things difficult for the Eagles.

Lakeview (6-3) is eighth and in a precarious position. Even a win over 8-1 Struthers, which is fifth in the region, does not guarantee a playoff spot.

Division V — LaBrae (7-2) is in third place in Region 17 and has clinched a playoff spot. Grand Valley (8-1) and Garfield (7-2) both control their destiny. A win over Conneaut and the Mustangs are in, while the G-Men get in by beating Southeast. Both would have to wait and see should they lose in week 10. Liberty stands 10th and needs a lot of things to go its way along with a victory over Girard.

Division VI — Western Reserve (6-3) is 10th in Region 21 and Brookfield (6-3) is 14th and both are still alive, barely. The Warriors have close losses to 7-2 Springfield (second in the region) and LaBrae, and an overtime loss to Liberty. One could argue Brookfield is three touchdowns away from being undefeated.

Division VII — John F. Kennedy (8-1) has clinched a home game despite its loss Saturday night and the fact it stands fourth in Region 25. Windham (6-3) and Jackson-Milton (6-3) are sixth and seventh, respectively, and have no guarantees, win or lose this week, of making the playoffs. Mathews (5-4), in 13th place, still is mathematically alive, but its chances are slim.