Three weeks left in the season, the path to the postseason is varied — easy for some, clear-cut for others and complicated for everyone involved in the Evergreen 1A.
Only a small handful of teams know that the postseason will not be in the future on the Twin Harbors, leaving the vast majority of teams fighting with destiny in their — or others — control.
By order of difficulty, we will take a look at the 2A/1A/2B postseason line.
Greater St. Helens 2A League
Aberdeen, in excruciating losses to Mark Morris and R.A. Long, have one of the clearest paths to the postseason in this six-team league — win and you are in.
Beginning Friday night, the Bobcats (0-2, 2-4) will have two of their final three games on the road — at Washougal and at Hockinson — to finish. Aberdeen’s defense, as well as its overall potency on the road (2-0 this season), places its postseason destiny in its hands. A third-place finish in the league will set it up with a district crossover game against the Evergreen 2A champion on Nov. 8-9.
“Our goal is to win the rest of our games and play in the crossover game against the Evergreen champion,” AHS head coach Terry Dion said.
Pacific 2B League
Three of the top-15 teams in the ScoreCzar.com computer rankings have Pacific teams in them, including two in the top-four spots — Raymond, at No. 2; and Willapa Valley (despite its loss to North Beach) at No. 4.
However, there are just two pivotal games left in the season that will determine which teams grab the top-four playoff berths entering the district crossover weekend on Nov. 8-9.
The first one will be at Naselle, where Ocosta (1-2, 3-3) will need a win to secure the fourth and final berth. The winner of this game will be in the postseason and will travel to either Napavine or Wahkiakum (aka the Central 2B League No. 3 seed) theoretically.
The second will be in Menlo — Raymond at Willapa Valley — to finish the three-game series between the Gulls, Vikings and North Beach. If Raymond (3-0, 5-1) wins, the Gulls will take the automatic berth as the league champions. The Hyaks (2-1, 5-1), if they win out against South Bend and Ocosta, will get the No. 2 spot and the Vikings (2-1, 3-3) will be the No. 3 seed.
If Willapa Valley knocks off Raymond, it will likely create a three-way tie for the league title. Thus, a Kansas tiebreaker will be needed to determine the No. 1 automatic state berth, with head-to-head taking care of the No. 2 & 3 spots.
Five teams with one loss, four playoff berths, three weeks left, two clutch league games left for each team and one gigantic mess.
Elma and Rochester sit with 3-1 records, with Montesano, Tenino and Forks at 2-1, in the league table. The Eagles will take care of their league bye this week against Ilwaco, while the Warriors will have their league bye next week against Stevenson.
From there, the destiny of postseason play and the league championship is in each of those five teams’ hands.
Elma has the schedulemaker’s best stretch to finish — three home games, including the East County Civil War against Montesano. The Eagles will get Forks on Oct. 25, the second big game for the Spartans, who travel to Rochester this Friday.
Montesano has two road games to finish the season, with trips to one-win Rainier on Oct. 25 and a short drive to Elma on Nov. 1. This Friday’s home finalè against Tenino is pivotal for both teams. The Beavers will host the Warriors on Nov. 1 in their final games of the season and, if things break right, could determine the league champion.
If results break right for Monte and Elma, the Civil War will regain its unofficial moniker as the league championship game.
So, are you confused? Yeah, I am, too. One good aspect about this rat’s nest of games is that the teams will knock themselves out to determine the league order.
The other good aspect is the postseason-type feel these final three weeks will create. With the Trico League commanded by second-ranked Woodland and fifth-ranked LaCenter, the Evergreen will be battle-tested entering the crossover games.
Record: After a seven-game slate last week, I went 5-2 to bring the season record to 33-17 (.667). I am getting closer to the Ray Ryan Mendoza line (.800) with 10 games to pick this week.
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Washington State Deaf Terriers (1-3) at Lake Quinault Elks (1-3) — The Elks are working on a new system with new head coach Darren Marshall. The Terriers will have to adjust quickly. Elks 49, Terriers 18.
Aberdeen Bobcats (0-2, 2-4) at Washougal Panthers (1-1, 4-2) — Don’t look at the records. The Bobcats have two near-miss losses to the Greater St. Helens League’s top-two teams, a point the Panthers don’t have. Bobcats 28, Panthers 13.
Rainier Mountaineers (0-4, 1-5) at Hoquiam Grizzlies (0-3, 1-5) — This is Senior Night for Hoquiam, which has fared better than Rainier this season. The Mounties have an average loss margin of 38 points. Grizzlies 42, Mountaineers 14.
Tenino Beavers (2-1, 2-4) vs. Montesano Bulldogs (2-1, 3-3) at Stewart Field — The Bulldogs established themselves as one of the teams to beat in this five-way Evergreen 1A race. The Beavers must hope to catch Monte looking ahead. Bulldogs 35, Beavers 24.
Raymond Seagulls (3-0, 5-1) at Naselle Comets (0-2, 1-4) — Naselle came away competitive against eighth-ranked North Beach, but sixth-ranked Raymond is still two steps ahead in this game. Raymond 49, Comets 6.
North Beach Hyaks (2-1, 5-1) at South Bend Indians (0-2, 0-5) — The first meeting was not close. This second meeting may just be a little closer. Hyaks 35, Indians 6.
Ilwaco Fishermen (0-6) at Elma Eagles (3-3) — Ilwaco has been caught in its own nets this season, outscored, 245-44, this season. Eagles 42, Fishermen 6.
Ocosta Wildcats (3-3) at Napavine Tigers (5-1) — The fourth-ranked Tigers will greet their non-league opponent with claws, … I mean, arms open. Tigers 38, Wildcats 13.
Rosalia Spartans (4-2) at Taholah Chitwhins (2-1) — The Spartans are just outside the state ranks and own a loss to third-ranked Touchet. The long road trip from Eastern Washington could slow them down, but for how long? Spartans 56, Chitwhins 36.
Oakville Acorns (0-5) at Wishkah Loggers (4-2) — Wishkah has found its groove this season and have established itself as the best eight-man team in the independent ranks. Loggers 47, Acorns 6.