COMMENTARY — Playoffs? You want playoffs? They’re coming … but not just yet.
In fact, in football, this week is monumentally important in deciding who goes where in the 3AA playoffs, which begin next week.
For those not sure what will happen in the playoffs, let me lay it right now:
There are only 13 teams in the 3AA, with seven in the 3AA North and six in the 3AA South. All but one of those teams will be in the postseason. That seems kind of screwy to have only 13 teams in the classification, but right now that’s the hand the UHSAA is dealing the sport of football.
The one thing that makes it palatable is the fact that several of those teams are legitimately solid football programs.
The 3AA North has been top-heavy this year and in all frankness, Logan is probably the only real contender. The Grizzlies have won their five region games by an average score of 39-15. Maybe Tooele, the No. 2 team from the North, can hang with the South teams, but the rest of the region is unimpressive.
Anyway, back to the playoffs. Twelve teams are in and the top two from each region get a bye in the opening round of the playoffs, which is scheduled for Oct. 31, though teams have the option to reschedule for Oct. 30 if both coaches agree to it.
The Nos. 3 and 4 seeds then host the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds in that first round. The following week, the state quarterfinals will take place with the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds hosting the winners of the first-round games.
So, based on that playoff setup, here are the matchups if the playoffs started today:
If the playoffs started today
Dixie, D-Hills (South) and Logan, Tooele would get byes Oct. 31
Hurricane (3S) would host Stansbury (6N)
Park City (3N) would host Snow Canyon (6S)
Cedar (4S) would host Bear River (5N)
Judge Memorial (4N) would host Pine View (5S)
Quarterfinals are Nov. 6-7
No. 1 hosts 4-5 winner
No. 2 hosts 3-6 winner
Semifinals are Nov. 12-13, 6:30 p.m.
At Rice Eccles Stadium
3AA Championship – Nov. 20, 11 a.m.
At Rice Eccles Stadium
First of all, I should mention that the North seedings below the top two are purely speculation as all four teams are tied for third place with 2-3 region records. Certainly, a lot is riding on this last week of games. But we do know Logan and Tooele are locked in as the 1 and 2 seeds and Ben Lomond, which has a bye this week, is out of the playoffs.
As far as the South, here are the different scenarios:
Dixie (3-1 in region) — Clinches the top seed with a win vs. Pine View Friday. A loss at home to the Panthers could complicate things, but only if Cedar beats Desert Hills and Hurricane beats Snow Canyon. Odds are … Dixie should win at home and clinch that top seed and a bye in the first round.
Desert Hills (3-1) — Clinches a bye with a home win vs. Cedar Friday. But losing to the Redmen could put the Thunder anywhere from the No. 2 to the No. 4. DH owns tiebreak on Hurricane, but a three-way tie could mean coin tosses. Odds are … Desert Hills should beat Cedar at Thunder Stadium, which would guarantee a bye in the first round.
Hurricane (2-2) — Clinches the No. 3 seed with a win at Snow Canyon Friday. having lost to Dixie and Desert Hills, the only way the Tigers could get a bye is if both teams lose this weekend and a coin toss is implemented. Odds are … H-Town will get No. 3-seed and host a first-round game next week.
Cedar (2-2) — Clinches home playoff game with win over DH Friday. Cedar is the team that could move the most this week. A win, coupled with losses by Dixie and DH, could conceivably earn the Redmen a first-round bye next week. But a loss and wins by Pine View and Snow Canyon would make it a four-way tie for third place and the dice would come out. Odds are … CHS falls at Desert Hills, but still gets the 4 seed and a home playoff game.
Pine View (1-3) — Clinches No. 5 seed with a win at Dixie Friday. The Panthers need both Hurricane and Cedar to lose to move up (having lost to both), and even then it would come down to a tiebreaker. Currently has tiebreaker over Snow Canyon with earlier win this season. Odds are … PV will hit the road in the first round of the playoffs, no matter who wins at Dixie Friday.
Snow Canyon (1-3) — Must win Friday vs. Hurricane to get out of the No. 6 spot. If the Warriors do, they would be tied with the Tigers and could get a home playoff game, depending on what happens with Dixie-PV. Friday is huge for SC. Odds are … Snow Canyon will have to hit the road in the first round. But this is the toughest one to predict and SC could move way up with a home win vs. the Tigers.
There you have it — clear as mud. The bottom line is this: With only five region games for the South teams, every game is monstrous and one slip-up could send a team packing to all reaches of the state in the first and second round.
One last scenario: If all the home teams win Friday night, Dixie and DH would get the bye, Cedar, Hurricane and Snow Canyon would be tied for third (coin toss) and Pine View would be the No. 6 seed.
Pine View at Dixie, 7 p.m. (CEC-TV, ESPN Radio 97.7 FM)
Hurricane at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m. (890-Am KDXU)
Cedar at Desert Hills, 7 p.m. (590-AM KSUB)
Region 9 collectively played well this week, with the four teams representing the south going 7-1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Top-seeded Desert Hills had a relatively easy time of things, destroying Richfield 13-0 in the first round and then beating Morgan 4-1 in the quarterfinal game at Thunder Stadium. DH has the ability to score goals in bunches, with a four-minute, three-goal burst in the second half vs. the Spartans as a perfect example.
No. 2-seeded Cedar also won a pair of matches, blitzing Juab 7-0 in the first round Wednesday and then getting a huge road win at Park City Saturday. In the first half against the Miners, Nicole Jenkins scored her 24th goal of the season and the 51st of her illustrious high school career. Junior goalkeeper Megan Giddings made the goal stand with a 1-0 shutout, eliminating perennial powerhouse Park City.
Snow Canyon, which finished just a point behind Cedar and two back of DH, also got two playoff wins and is into the state semifinals. The Warriors dominated North Sanpete 3-0 Wednesday, then stunned Juan Diego with a PK win Saturday. The victory over Juan Diego went through both OTs all tied up at 1-1. SC scored on all five PKs, while the Soaring Eagle missed one, sending the Warriors to the semis.
Pine View beat Canyon View in the first round, a fourth seed topping a first seed. Freshman McKenna Plumb had both goals for the Panthers. PV then traveled to 10-4 Logan, but couldn’t get past the Grizzlies in a 2-0 loss.
So the semifinals are Friday evening at Jordan High School in Sandy, with Logan and Desert Hills squaring off at 3:45 p.m. and Cedar and Snow Canyon meeting at 6 p.m.
The Thunder and the Grizz have not met this season, while the Warriors and Lady Reds played each other twice, with Cedar taking a 2-1 win at home and SC returning the favor at Warrior Stadium.
The 3A Championship game is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Desert Hills boys have put together a dynasty in cross country at the 3A level and are heavy favorites to win it again this Wednesday at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.
Josh Thatcher, Jaiden Melendez, Spencer Ford, Sage Ducote, Bryson King, Tanner Sharp and Boston Wood all finished in the top 11 as the Thunder won the team Region 9 title by 16 points.
Pine View, led by Nick Hill and Dallen Gillespie, might be the closest contender for Desert Hills.
On the girls side, which also competes at state Wednesday, Pine View should be the favorite with Meskerem Stucki leading the way. PV’s Rylee Holt is also tough, along with the rest of the Lady Panthers, Caroline Clements, Josie Bushar, Ellie Bushar, Jacey Finch and Alli Peterson.
It’s the last regular season week for the spikers, too. Snow Canyon has thee top seed clinched and Desert Hills is pretty much locked into the No. 2 spot. Dixie and Pine View battle tonight with the winner in the driver’s seat for the No. 3 spot. The loser will be the fourth seed, with Cedar and Hurricane already out of the playoff race.
The state tournament is Oct. 28-29 (yep, that’s a Wednesday and Thursday) at Utah Valley University.
This week’s volleyball schedule
Desert Hills at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Pine View, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
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