The Playoff Puzzle

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 2004

Alabama high school teams have two remaining region (conference) games to play for 2004. The November 5 season finale is an out of conference game for all schools. For some, the playoffs have been clinched and now they are playing for position and home field advantage. Others are in a mad scramble to stake a claim as high as possible while yet others are giving it 110% to just make the postseason.

There are still two groups that need to be identified. Those with no postseason possibilities whatsoever but are simply playing for pride and because they love the game. The second group are those who are probably just ‘phoning it in’ (a.k.a. going through the motions) while tuning up on some hoop dreams.

Breaking News – Linden Forfeits 3 Regional Wins

The Patriots having been busted for playing an ineligible player and having to give up 3 regional wins shakes the world in 1A Region 4. Not only do the Patriots go from being tied for second place with Sweet H2O but Sunshine, Akron&John Essex pick up regional wins (assuming Linden’s victory over Carrolton last Friday night is allowed to stand).

Linden’s second season future hangs on a lot of ‘if’s’. Linden must defeat both A.L. Johnson (tonight) and Sweet Water next week for any other factors to be relevant. Should the Patriots win both, John Essex must lose tonight to SWHS Bulldogs and next week to ALJ plus Sunshine must lose to either Carrolton or Akron. If John Essex wins one or both or Sunshine wins both of their final two regional games, all that’s left for LHS to do is break out the hardwood sneakers.

John Essex

The Hornets must drink from a tall glass, a very tall glass, in order to quench their playoff thirst. Tonight is (the first of the must wins) Sweet Water. The Bulldogs will travel north to ‘The Hornets Nest’ and chances are they have not forgotten the John Essex post game victory celebration last year at their ‘house’. Next week JEHS travels to Thomaston to take on A.L. Johnson.

Sweet Water

The Bulldogs ran out of time last week against American Christian in Tuscaloosa. The loss could be a problem if they don’t put it behind them. Tonight the mission is bring home a win from Saltwell (see above John Essex), next week Linden is in the crosshairs. The Bulldogs can control their regional destiny and finish second in Region 4 by running the table in the next two games. In addition, Bulldog victories will have an impact on the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds from the region.

A.L. Johnson

Once again, a situation where a team can control their destiny by simply playing games one at a time and winning both. Starting tonight with a win over Linden and next week against John Essex, the Eagles could finish second (if SWHS loses to both John Essex and Linden) or tied for second if Sweet Water wins one of the two remaining. A tie with Sweet Water would result in a No. 3 seed since SWHS won 48-16 on October 1 in their head to head contest.

Sunshine

Not so fast, don’t count the Tigers out yet. Starting with a win tonight at Carrolton and next week again on the road against hapless Akron, Sunshine could see playoff ‘sunshine’. However, for this to happen John Essex must lose both. Even if Linden wins both of their final two, Sunshine is in and Linden is out by way of the forfeit.

Class A West Region is all but bought and paid for by the Southern Academy Cougars. The Cougars this past week dropped Cornerstone from the regional unbeaten ranks in a conference victory. The Cougars (6-0) travel out of conference tonight to play Class AA Patrician (5-1). Next week SA has a show down with Shelby Academy, the last bona fide challenger in the region. The Hale (County) Cats close out at home on November 5 against Class AA tough guy Pickens Acad Pirates.

West Alabama Prep’s chances for postseason may be at best on life support after the pasting by Central Christian last week. The Titans only hope is to win everything from here out and hope Central Christian will lose in a miracle to MI and then again before November 5.

Marengo Academy Longhorns will be free to get a jump on their plans for their opener in 2005 as there definitely will be no playoff action for the ‘steers’ this season. It has been a long, tough frustrating season for MA but they can salvage their dignity by coming up with a win against Wilcox, Jackson and / or Sumter.

Demopolis High School

The Tigers dismantled the contending Jemison Panthers last Friday 55-16 at Jemison’s ‘House of Pleasure”, sorry, that should read ‘House of Pain’. The River City Bengals last two conference games are on the road to Greene County and Livingston, two of the bottom division schools. In the unlikely event the Tigers stumbled and crumbled against both they would finish no worse than second in the region as DHS has handled all the potential challengers. Before you make the call to Vegas to play your numbers on a colossal Tiger meltdown, keep in mind the Tigers have not lost a regular season game since November 2001.

If the playoffs were to start this weekend, the first round would feature Region 4 No. 1 hosting Region 2 No. 4. Therefore, if Demopolis won the region the Tigers would play the Daleville Warhawks (3-2 region). However, keep your eye on the Opp Bobcats. The Bobcats are currently 2-3 in the region. Opp’s final two games are against Rehobeth (1-4) and Bullock County (0-5) while Daleville must play Geneva (4-1) and No. 1 ranked in 4A and defending 4A State Champion Trinity (5-0).