Eight football teams qualify for the state large-school playoffs -- four each from the Cook Inlet Conference and Railbelt Conference -- and the majority of those berths already have been clinched.
And, with two weekends left in the regular season, that means its turning into crunch time for teams making a final push to gain the postseason.
In the eight-team CIC, defending state champion Service (5-0 in conference), West (5-0) and South (4-1), all of which advanced to the state semifinals last season, are assured berths -- what remains at stake for those teams is seeding in the playoffs.
The two contenders for the CIC's fourth playoff spot are Dimond (3-2) and East (2-3).
Dimond faces a tough task -- its two remaining games are against Service on Friday and then against South to close the season. East gets Eagle River (0-5) this week and closes against Chugiak (1-4). Plus, East owns the head-to-head, tie-breaker over Dimond with a 21-0 win.
In the seven-team Railbelt, league-leading and top-ranked Palmer (4-0 in conference) is assured a playoff berth for the 13th straight season, which constitutes the longest active streak in the state. That's a solid indication coach Rod Christiansen and his long-time crew of assistant coaches know what they're doing.
North Pole (4-1), which fell 49-42 to visiting Palmer last Friday, looks like a playoff lock. And Juneau-Douglas (3-1), seeking a playoff spot for the 10th consecutive season, is sitting in a good spot but has a tough schedule remaining -- the Crimson Bears play at Palmer on Friday night and closes the season with a home game against.
West Valley (2-2) and Colony (2-2) still are in the playoff hunt, though one of them will be in much better position after they meet Friday night in Palmer.
Juneau, West Valley and Colony all have tough schedules in the last two weeks of the season -- none of them faces a team that is currently sub-.500 in conference.
Anchorage Daily News