The logic seems clear as day.
The Eldorado football team should be – will be – rooting fiercely for Manzano on Thursday night when the Monarchs faces La Cueva.
Total and complete logic.
I mean, Manzano beats La Cueva, and Eldorado wins the District 2-6A championship.
How easy could this decision be, right?
If you know Eagles coach Charlie Dotson, who has a reputation for thinking outside the box, then you’d hardly be surprised to find out that if La Cueva beats Manzano, and Eldorado cedes the 2-6A crown to Sandia, he’d be entirely comfortable.
Maybe even privately pleased.
“I would rather play in two weeks than three weeks,” Dotson said matter-of-factly after Friday’s rain-soaked 40-21 victory over Manzano.
The thing is, he has a point. An excellent point.
Eldorado has its bye in Week 11, which is next weekend.
If the Eagles get help from Manzano and win the district title, I promise you Eldorado will be awarded a top-four seed for the playoffs, and earn a first-round bye.
Which brings this conversation to Eldorado’s – and specifically Dotson’s – conundrum.
A first-round playoff bye would extend the Eagles’ idle period to 21 or 22 days between games.
If you recall, this is exactly the scenario that played out last year, when Eldorado had three weeks between its final regular-season game, and its quarterfinal date with Cibola.
And a 12th-seeded Cibola team nearly stunned the Eagles that day, losing 21-14.
So Dotson would not entirely object to finishing second in district and hosting a first-round game Nov. 13 or 14, rather than have off from Oct. 30 until at least Nov. 20 or 21.
“But,” he said, “we’ll cross that bridge after (Manzano vs. La Cueva).”
FIVE IS ALIVE: All credit to Atrisco Heritage for running the table in District 5 after a dismal 1-5 start.
The Jaguars did not beat any team with a winning record, and in fact, the five teams they beat are currently a combined 11-34. This won’t help them on selection Sunday, which is a week from today.
But, it’s only fair to note that four of Atrisco’s five losses came to 6A power programs: Clovis, Sandia, Rio Rancho and Volcano Vista.
The young Jaguars not only shored up their defense considerably over the second half of the season, but tailback Aaron Bean gives AHA a true X-factor presence. He is good enough, on his own, to give the Jags at least a puncher’s chance in the first round of the playoffs.
Having said that, I have Atrisco Heritage slotted at No. 12 for the 6A tournament. The Jags simply don’t merit a seed any higher than that. (See my full projections at the end of the column.)
- Also, Albuquerque High has a chance to end the year at .500 if the Bulldogs (4-5) beat West Mesa on Thursday. To go from a losing streak of four-plus years to .500 in two seasons would be remarkable. I can hardly sing coach Curtis Flakes’ praises enough for what he’s managed at Bulldog City.
Think about this one: The 63 points Albuquerque High scored on Valley in Week 9 was more points than the program scored in 10 games combined in 2012 (39) or 2013 (60).
DESCRAMBLING: District 4-6A will have a three-way deadlock for first place next Friday if Carlsbad upsets Clovis and Hobbs defeats Alamogordo.
But, Clovis would have to lose by at least 11 points – at home, no less, which seems unlikely – to see the district crown snatched away by the Cavemen.
What piques my interest is the other, more bizarre tie-breaking scenario in this district that could actually revive the playoff hopes of the free-falling Alamogordo Tigers.
Alamo (6-3) has lost three straight, and is in the basement in four-team 4-6A. And yet, the Tigers, incredibly, are not dead yet.
A Tiger victory of at least eight points in Hobbs on Friday, coupled with a Clovis victory against Carlsbad by any score, would leave Alamo, Hobbs and Carlsbad in a three-way tie for second place, with Alamogordo holding the tiebreaker on the other two.
A 7-3 record and second-place showing in district would probably earn the Tigers a back-door, at-large playoff bid.
WEEK 10 PLAYOFF PROJECTIONS: In 6A football, my belief is that we’ve got 12 clear-cut playoff teams as we sail into the last two days of the season Thursday and Friday.
Cleveland (9-0), Las Cruces (7-2), Eldorado (8-2) and Rio Rancho (7-2) are my top four. The next eight, in order, go as follows:
5. Volcano Vista (6-4)
6. Clovis (6-3)
7. Manzano (5-4)
8. Sandia (6-3)
9. Mayfield (6-3)
10. Hobbs (5-4)
11. Cibola (5-4)
12. Atrisco Heritage (5-5)
That leaves us with the following first-round matchups:
Atrisco Heritage at Volcano Vista (winner to face Rio Rancho)
Cibola at Clovis (winner to face Eldorado)
Hobbs at Manzano (winner to face Las Cruces)
Mayfield at Sandia (winner to face Cleveland)
I’ll have a final projection next weekend.
FIVE GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK
1. Mayfield (6-3, 3-0 in 3-6A) vs. Las Cruces (7-2, 3-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Aggie Memorial Stadium: What, you need me to explain this one?
2. Cleveland (9-0, 3-0 in 1-6A) at Rio Rancho (7-2, 3-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Or this one? Actually, the shorthanded Rams could still get a top-four seed for the playoffs, if they lose and it’s competitive. But this is a great rivalry game; nothing is for certain, not even a Storm victory.
3. Manzano (5-4, 2-1 in 2-6A) at La Cueva (3-6, 1-2), 7 p.m. Thursday, Wilson Stadium: The Monarchs cannot win the district championship, not after losing big to Eldorado. However, they can either finish second or third, which might be the difference between a first-round home game and a first-round road game. For that obvious reason, Manzano is motivated.
4. Carlsbad (1-8, 1-1 in 4-6A) at Clovis (6-3, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: It’s a district championship for the Wildcats if they win at Leon Williams Stadium. It’s potentially a district title for the Cavemen if they win, but they’d also need help. (See my column today for more background on this.)
5. West Mesa (3-6, 2-1 in 5-6A) at Albuquerque High (4-5, 2-1), 7 p.m. Thursday, Milne Stadium: Yes, this game means nothing in the sense that neither will get to the playoffs. But AHS has a chance to finish at .500, which is reason enough to put this game on the list.