WALLA WALLA — With the prospect of a three-team mini-playoff looming one week from today, DeSales and Waitsburg-Prescott have been successful in moving their Friday night regular-season football finales to Wednesday night.
DeSales will entertain Liberty Christian in a 6 p.m. game at Ty Baffney Field. Waitsburg-Prescott travels to neighboring Dayton for a 7 p.m. contest.
Both games are Southeast 2B-11 League counters. And if the Irish and W-P are both victorious, they’ll finish in a three-way tie with Asotin for first place in the final league standings.
And that will set the stage for next Tuesday’s mini-playoff at a neutral site to decide the league’s two berths in the Class 2B-11 state playoffs.
Asotin, which concluded its league schedule last weekend, was scheduled to play at Davenport Thursday night in a non-league game. But the Panthers, looking ahead to the possible mini-playoff, decided to cancel that game.
DeSales coach Pat Graham and W-P coach Jeff Bartlow agree that it would have been best to reschedule this week’s regular-season finales on Thursday rather than Wednesday. But with the district volleyball tournament scheduled Thursday in Dayton, that simply wasn’t possible.
So Wednesday it is.
"It’s hard," Bartlow said of the quick turnaround from last Friday’s games. "What you have to do is rally around two practices. "We worked on our offense Monday, today it will be defense and special teams, and tomorrow we play the game."
"Thursday would have been a better choice, but Thursday wasn’t an option," Graham said. "So Wednesday was the next best option.
"But it’s not ideal," Graham added. "Football coaches and football players get locked into the same routine for eight or nine weeks. And now you are dealing with a short week, and you might have some kids who were banged up last week. There are a lot of factors."
DeSales will be without junior wide receiver and cornerback Tommy Gregg Wednesday. Gregg strained a knee in last Friday’s 50-36 victory at Asotin that set all of this in motion.
Had the Irish lost to the Panthers, Asotin would have been the league’s top seed to the state playoffs and Waitsburg-Prescott, which defeated DeSales earlier in the year, would be in as the No. 2 seed.
"We’re going to hold Tommy out this week," Graham said. "Hopefully we will have him back for the mini-playoff."
DeSales and Waitsburg-Prescott were both grateful to this week’s opponents for being willing to reschedule the games for earlier in the week. Had they not, DeSales and W-P would both be at a decided disadvantage going up against an Asotin team next Tuesday that is already preparing for them.
As for the mini-playoff, there seems to be some questions as to the format that will be used. Athletic directors will meet Wednesday to clarify the plan.
"We do know that teams will play two 12-minute halves," Bartlow said. "One team will draw a first-round bye and the other two teams will play. It’s what happens after that that needs to be made clear."