New look to area prep football playoffs this year

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WALLA WALLA - As the 2010 prep football regular season winds to a close this week and fans turn their attention to the postseason playoffs, it seems like an appropriate time to take stock of where we stand here in our little corner of the state.

And in a nutshell, it ain't like it used to be.

As the calendar flips from October to November, only two area squads - Waitsburg-Prescott and DeSales - are assured of postseason games. W-P is the Southeast 2B-11 League champion and DeSales is second, and they will host first-round playoff games Friday night.

Dayton could join the party, but the Bulldogs must survive a three-team mini-playoff in Pomeroy tonight for that to happen.

Asotin has already claimed the league's third playoff berth and Dayton, Tekoa-Oakesdale and Tri-Cities Prep are deadlocked for the fourth and final ticket.

Based on a coin flip, Dayton faces T-O-R tonight at 7 in the first mini-game, with the winner taking on Tri-Cities Prep in the second. The winner of the second game advances to Friday's first round of the playoffs as the league's No. 4 seed.

A similar scenario appears likely in determining the Southeast 1B-8 League's three playoff teams. At least Touchet and Pomeroy are hoping that turns out to be true.

St. John-Endicott has already clinched the league championship and the No. 1 playoff seed, and the winner of Thursday's game in Colton between Garfield-Palouse and Colton will decide second place.

Touchet, which wrapped up league play last Friday with a 34-28 victory at Pomeroy, is looking for a little help from one of its friends - Colton, Sunnyside Christian or Pomeroy.

If Colton defeats Gar-Pal, Touchet is assured of no worse than a three-way tie for third, pending the outcome of Lacrosse-Washtucna's game at Sunnyside Christian. In that event, a mini-playoff would be scheduled next Tuesday, site yet undetermined, to determine the league's third playoff team.

A Colton win Thursday and a L-W loss in Sunnyside would give the Indians third place outright based on their 38-34 victory over Gar-Pal.

But if Gar-Pal beats Colton and claims second place, the Indians could be in trouble. A two-way tie with Colton or a three-way tie that includes L-W would leave the Indians on the outside looking in since they lost to both the Wildcats and Tigercats during the regular season.

However, if Pomeroy can bounce back from its disappointing homecoming loss to Touchet and upset St. John-Endicott Thursday night on the Eagles' home field, the Pirates can force their way into the mix. That would result in either a three-way tie for third place between Touchet, Pomeroy and the Colton-Gar-Pal loser or a four-way tie that would also include L-W.

So check back on Friday.

South of the border, Weston-McEwen's Oregon Class 2A playoff hopes are also still swinging in the wind. Last Friday's 46-15 loss at Blue Mountain Conference powerhouse Heppner has definitely muddied the water as far as the TigerScots are concerned.

While Heppner clinched yet another Blue Mountain Conference championship with the victory, once-beaten Weston-McEwen finds itself in dire need of a victory over Enterprise Friday night in Athena to nail down the league's No. 2 playoff spot.

Enterprise and Stanfield, which hosts fifth-place Pilot Rock Friday, come into the weekend just one game behind the TigerScots. If the Outlaws and the Tigers are both victorious, there will be in a three-way tie for second place and a point system based on regular-season play will be implemented to determine the league's third and final playoff berth.

Since Weston-McEwen spanked Stanfield 28-7 Oct. 15 in Athena and Stanfield edged Enterprise 44-37 last weekend in Enterprise, the TigerScots would appear to be on fairly safe ground, both in terms of the point system and in handicapping the outcome of Friday's game. Nevertheless, the game will be played on the football field and not on paper.

And that's it as far as this year's area's playoff possibilities are concerned.

Wa-Hi will go for its third victory in 10 games Thursday in a non-league game at Hanford. Burbank takes a 3-5 season mark into Friday's South Central Conference cross-division game against Highland on the Coyotes' home field. And Mac-Hi wrapped up its 3-6 campaign last Friday with a 61-21 loss at Ontario that left the Pioneers once again winless in the Greater Oregon League.

It's not easy assessing how far any of this year's playoff teams will make it.

DeSales won the last of its five Class 2B-11 state championships in 2007, when the Irish defeated Toutle Lake 30-0 in the Tacoma Dome. But neither DeSales nor Waitsburg-Prescott has been able to get past Colfax since the Bulldogs dropped down a notch in classification, and Colfax is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state again this year.

Touchet has certainly known its share of gridiron glory, winning four Class 1B-8 state championships and finishing second on three other occasions. But the Indians haven't played in the Gridiron Classic since 2002, and they've lost in the first round of the playoffs each of the last two years.

Pomeroy, in its first year as an 8-man program, made its last Class 2B-11 playoff appearance in 2004 when the Pirates lost to La Salle 49-48 in the first round. That was two years removed from Pomeroy's best run when the Pirates reached the 2002 state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Reardan 21-0.

As for Weston-McEwen, the TigerScots are trying to rekindle memories of the mid-1990s when they made four straight playoff appearances, including a 43-20 loss to Santiam in the 1994 semifinals and a 49-3 defeat at the hands of Dayton in the 1995 Oregon Class 2A state championship game.

And speaking of the 1990s, who doesn't remember 1994 and the final Kingbowl in the Kingdome in Seattle?

That's the year Wa-Hi, Dayton and Touchet all represented this corner of the state in the championship games.

Wa-Hi suffered a 15-10 loss to South Kitsap in the Blue Devils only trip to the finals; Dayton defeated Toutle Lake 35-22 in the 2B-11 finale for its only state football crown in school history; and Touchet toppled Pateros 38-24 as the Indians began an era in which they won three state titles and finished second twice in a span of nine years.

Those were the days.

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