The West Eagles made their debut as Alaska's top-ranked football team Monday, just in time to put a target on their back for the playoffs.
West, winners of six straight games, is the first team other than South or Service to be ranked No. 1 this season in the Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network's poll for large-school football teams.
The Eagles grabbed the top spot by knocking off top-ranked teams in consecutive weeks, beating then-No. 1 South last week and then-No. 1 Service the week before. The wins earned them the Cook Inlet Conference title.
West takes on unranked Lathrop on Friday night in the first round of the playoffs.
In Friday's other quarterfinal, Dimond travels to the Valley to meet Colony, which clinched the Railbelt Conference title with last weekend's victory over West Valley. The win helped Colony climbed to No. 3 in the rankings.
On Saturday, unranked Chugiak battles second-ranked Service in the afternoon and fifth-ranked South plays fourth-ranked Palmer in the evening.
This weekend also marks the start of playoffs begin in the small-school and medium-school divisions.
All three medium division quarterfinal games are Satuday -- top-ranked Soldotna hosts Houston, Kenai hosts Kodiak and North Pole entertains Ketchikan in the medium division, while Juneau gets a first-round bye.
The four-team small division playoffs open with semifinal games Friday (Eielson at Nikiski) and Saturday (Barrow at Monroe).
First National Bowl
7 p.m. -- Lathrop at West, Anchorage Football Stadium
7 p.m. -- Dimond at Colony
4 p.m. -- Chugiak at Service, Anchorage Football Stadium
7 p.m. -- South at Palmer
Houston at Soldotna, noon
Kodiak at Kenai, 3:30 p.m.
Ketchikan at North Pole, 6 p.m.
Eielson at Nikiski, 5 p.m.
Barrow at Monroe, 1 p.m.
Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network
State football poll
1) West (6-2)
2) Service (6-2)
3) Colony (3-5)
4) Palmer (6-2)
5) South (5-3)
1) Soldotna (8-0)
2) Juneau (7-1)
3) North Pole (6-1)
4) Monroe (6-2)
5) tie, Kodiak (5-2), Kenai (7-1)
Anchorage Daily News