Two. Three at the absolute most.
That’s how many chances remain for prep football teams to secure postseason places, and obviously none can afford any costly hiccups at this juncture. In Week 8, 13 games feature teams jockeying for playoff seeding, ranging from outright region title bouts to fighting for the final spots.
Say hello to Judgment Week.
Four games will potentially decide region championships and the accompanying No. 1 seeds: Hunter at Taylorsville; Bingham at Jordan; Juan Diego at Stansbury; and Juab at Manti.
By beating Hunter, Taylorsville could conceivably capture its first outright region title in school history. The Wolverines are deceptively dangerous, however. Their three losses came against Bingham, Brighton and Davis, who are ranked No. 1, 4 and 5 in the state with a combined 19-1 record.
The Beetdiggers are in the mix again after three straight wins. During the streak, the offensive trio of Austin Kafentzis, Clay Moss and Mason Krueger have accounted for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“We’re aware of all their weaknesses and strengths,” Bingham center Riley Culley said. “We’ll do what we, I guess — take advantage of that. Then again, we’re not going to change anything.”
Regardless, the Miners are the consensus No. 1 team in the state, and for good reason. In seven games they have recorded 19 sacks and 11 interceptions while surrendering a mere 94 points.
“We’ve always had a big rivalry with Jordan. I don’t know; we’ve just never got along,” Culley said. “It’s a big game to prove that we are No. 1 in the state, not only to Jordan, but to the rest of the state and to us.”
Meanwhile, Manti and Juab were destined for this moment since July when opposing coaches projected the two as the top teams in the 3A South region. The Wasps are averaging 51.3 points per game in region play behind quarterback Nick Robins, and the Templars are once again considered the class of 3A after suffering their lone setback in overtime of Week 3.
The Thursday night meeting in Stansbury might be the most intriguing of the bunch. Both teams will likely secure a first-round bye with the new 3AA playoff format, but when the Stallions were predicted to end Juan Diego’s run of 10 straight region titles, the Soaring Eagle took notice.
“Both teams want that first seed going into the playoffs,” Juan Diego coach John Colosimo said. “That’s always one of our goals. We want to win the region title. We always talk about the teams in the region — who do we think's going to be a challenge and certainly Stansbury is one of those teams.”
Three games can position squads in a three-way tie for first place: Davis at Northridge, Riverton at Herriman and Orem at Corner Canyon. If Northridge, Herriman and Orem pull off the upsets, it’ll create logjams with Syracuse, American Fork and Olympus atop their respective regions.
And several other games have postseason implications, as well.
Salem Hills and Springville are vying for the No. 2 seed in Region 8. Grantsville and Sky View host Morgan and Box Elder, respectively, with an opportunity to flip-flop the standings. Three critical games — Wasatch at Spanish Fork, Alta at Copper Hills and Ben Lomond at Uintah — are potential season-surviving games for final playoff spots.