As we head into the final week of the regular season, three Dickinson County football teams have secured their spots in the postseason, while a fourth is in a "win and you're in" scenario.
Spirit Lake (8-0, 5-0) has secured the top spot in Class 2A District 1 regardless of what happens in this week's district road matchup with MOC-Floyd Valley.
Harris-Lake Park (4-4, 3-3) has also secured the fourth spot in 8-Player District 2 despite falling to Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire at home on Friday in the Wolves' regular season finale.
The Titans (7-1, 4-1) are in the playoffs, but this week's host of games will determine whether they earn the second or third seed in District 2, which is the difference between hosting a first round game or going on the road. GT/RA will host Remsen St. Mary's in the regular season finale.
Right now, the Titans trail Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn (7-0, 5-0) and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over West Bend-Mallard (4-3, 4-1). This week, the Wolverines host the Eagles.
If MMC defeats WBM, the Eagles will earn the top seed, while GT/RA will be the second seed -- even if the Titans lose on Friday -- and WBM will be the third seed due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
If WBM defeats MMC and GT/RA defeats RSM, all three teams will hold head-to-head tiebreakers over each other. The seeds will then be determined by point differential.
Right now, MMC (+13) leads the point differential, while WBM (+8.8) is second and GT/RA (+5.6) is third.
If MMC beats WBM, the Eagles win the district outright and GT/RA will be the second seed even if the Titans lose to the Hawks. The Wolverines will be the third seed and will travel in the first round.
If WBM defeats MMC, all three teams will split the district championship. However, even a one-point Wolverines win over the Eagles would be enough to push the Wolverines' scoring differential (+7.5) higher than the Titans' (+6.8) even if the Titans defeat Remsen St. Mary's by 13 or more.
In short, a Wolverines win will push the Titans into the third seed and send them on the road Wednesday. An Eagles' win gives the Titans the second seed and a home playoff game.
And that brings me to perhaps the most interesting matchup of the week, as Okoboji (4-4, 2-3) hosts Sioux Center (4-4, 2-3) in Milford.
The Pioneers and Warriors join MOC-Floyd Valley at 2-3 in district play, trailing district champion Spirit Lake (5-0), Cherokee (4-2) and Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (3-2). Sheldon brings up the rear at 0-5.
This is where it gets interesting, as CL/GLR (+3.4) holds the head-to-head tiebreakers over Okoboji (-0.6) and Sioux Center (+1.6). MOC-Floyd Valley (-4.2) holds the tiebreaker over CL/GLR, but Okoboji and Sioux Center each hold tiebreakers over the Dutch.
Even if MOC-FV wins by more than 13 points when the Dutch host Spirit Lake this Friday (pushing their scoring differential to -1.3) and CL/GLR loses to Sheldon by 13 or more, putting them both at 3-3 in district play, the Dutch will still be eliminated by a three-way tie with the Lions and the winner between Okoboji and Sioux Center due to each team's scoring differential.
A one-point win by Okoboji would give the Pioneers a -0.3 differential. A one-point win by Sioux Center would give the Warriors a +1.5 scoring differential. A 13-point loss by Central Lyon would give the Lions a +0.7 scoring differential. All are higher than the unlikely event the Dutch win by 13 over Spirit Lake.
This essentially pits the Pioneers and Warriors in a "win and you're in" battle for fourth place in the district this Friday in Milford.
The bottom line:
Spirit Lake will host at least one playoff game. Harris-Lake Park will travel in round one. If Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn beats West Bend-Mallard, Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire will host a playoff game. If the opposite happens, the Titans will hit the road in the first round. And if Okoboji defeats Sioux Center, the Pioneers will return to the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Lose, and winter comes early.
Did I make that clear as mud?