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District 26-6A playoff race convoluted

This is may be the most competitive district in the state.

OL #54 Taylor Brooks celebrates a big win over Steele.

Nathan Canales

OL #54 Taylor Brooks celebrates a big win over Steele.

Jackson Posey, Staff Writer

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You could say that a giant has awoken – or you could say that one is going to sleep. The Smithson Valley Rangers are having one of the strangest seasons in recent memory, with quality wins, bad losses, and a special-teams unit that leaves fans scratching their heads seemingly every time they’re on the field.

Coming off a big win against rival Cibolo Steele that catapulted them back into the playoff race, this squad controls their own destiny. Here’s a rundown of the division standings, keeping in mind that the top four teams will make the playoffs:

 

  1. Judson (7,0, 5-0) – CLINCHED
  2. Clemens (6-2, 4-1)
  3. Smithson Valley (3-4, 3-2)
  4. Steele (5-3, 3-2)
  5. East Central (4-4, 2-3)
  6. New Braunfels (3-5, 2-3)
  7. Canyon (3-5, 1-4)
  8. San Marcos (1-7, 0-5) – OUT

 

If the season ended today, the Rangers would be in. But as it currently stands, five teams have legitimate shots, duking it out for the final three spots with just two games remaining. Canyon is not mathematically eliminated as of yet, but realism is a limiting factor to their success at this point in the year. San Marcos at home is not a particularly challenging match. The Rattlers have been outscored 342-178 in just eight games, and their only victory came by a single point. So, to spice up the preview, I’ve decided to bypass breaking down the Rattlers. Sure, they have some pieces (WR #1 Williams and RB #2 Johnson comes to mind), but they simply don’t have the surrounding pieces to compete. A Rattler win would mean an utter mental collapse by every facet of this Smithson Valley team. But I’m not going to say that. A Ranger win secures their playoff spot. A loss would set off chaos throughout District 26.

Judson has clinched. But beyond that, anything could happen. Here’s a breakdown of every team and how realistic their hopes are:

 

Converse Judson (7-0, 5-0)

Tiebreakers: Steele (W), New Braunfels (W), Smithson Valley (W), East Central (Wk. 10), Clemens (Wk. 11)

What they need to make the playoffs: They’re in. Priority #1 has to be health at this point in the year, though with two stiff matchups yet to come, seeding has to be in the backs of their minds as well.

Prediction: First Seed

 

Schertz Clemens (6-2, 4-1)

Tiebreakers: Smithson Valley (W), Steele (L), East Central (W), New Braunfels (Wk. 10)

What they need to make the playoffs: Win a game, or have New Braunfels lose once. A tiebreaker over East Central bars the possibility of losing out on a spot to the Hornets, so it comes down to the Smithson Valley/Steele/New Braunfels trio to try to upset the Buffaloes.

Doomsday Scenario: Organized chaos. Steele (@ Canyon, vs East Central) wins out, Smithson Valley beats San Marcos at home but loses on the road to New Braunfels, who beat Clemens on the road and the Rangers at home. That would leave Clemens on the outside looking in from the #5 slot, with East Central, regardless of success, relegated to #6.

Prediction: Second seed

 

Smithson Valley (3-4, 3-2)

Tiebreakers: Clemens (L), East Central (W), Judson (L), Steele (L), New Braunfels (Wk. 11)

What they need to make the playoffs: Win a game. The Rangers control their own destiny, and if they take at least one of their last two contests (vs San Marcos, @ New Braunfels), they’ll be playoff-bound.

Doomsday Scenario: Lose out. New Braunfels would pass the Rangers, as would the winner of East Central @ Steele. One win would lock the Rangers in, but losing their last two would render them incapacitated and hoping for a fifth-seed.

Prediction: Third Seed

 

Cibolo Steele (5-3, 3-2)

Tiebreakers: Judson (L), Clemens (W), New Braunfels (W), Smithson Valley (L)

What they need to make the playoffs: Beat East Central. As the fourth seed in a tight race, Steele has precious little wiggle room. Without an opportunity to make up a potential loss in week 11 vs East Central, that becomes the only game that matters. WIn and you’re in. Lose, and you’ll have to beat Canyon and hope that Smithson Valley loses to San Marcos and New Braunfels. A win would also protect them from a theoretical uprising in New Braunfels – two wins would shoot them past Steele if the Knights stumble in their last two games.

Prediction: Fourth Seed

 

East Central (4-4, 2-3)

Tiebreakers: New Braunfels (W), Smithson Valley (L), Clemens (L), Judson (Wk. 10), Steele (Wk. 11)

What they need to make the playoffs: Beat Steele, and either win against Judson or Steele loses to Canyon. With how desperate Steele is at the moment, I can’t see them losing to a demoralized Canyon team that has lost five of their last six. The win? At home against East Central in week eight.

Doomsday Scenario: Losing to Steele. Without a win against Steele, the Hornets are mathematically eliminated.

Prediction: Sixth Seed

 

New Braunfels (3-5, 2-3)

Tiebreakers: East Central (L), Judson (L), Steele (L), Clemens (Wk. 10), Smithson Valley (Wk. 11)

What they need to do to make the playoffs: Win out. Beating Clemens and Smithson Valley would give them big tiebreakers that would lock them into a playoff spot. Lose to Clemens, and the Unicorns would need Smithson Valley to lose to San Marcos, and for East Central to lose to Judson and Steele.

Prediction: Seventh Seed

 

Canyon (3-5, 1-4)

Tiebreakers: New Braunfels (L), Smithson Valley (L), Clemens (L), East Central (W), Judson (L), Steele (Wk. 10), San Marcos (Wk. 11)

What they need to make the playoffs: Here’s where the math gets really wacky. Canyon (3-5, 1-4) has just one district win. But thanks to the immense parity in District 26, they still have a chance (kind of). Here’s what has to happen for the 1-4 Cougars to make the playoffs:

 

a) Win at home against Steele.

b) Win at San Marcos.

c) East Central loses to Judson…

d) …but beats Steele. Canyon would already have the same amount of wins (3) as Steele, so it’s imperative that the Knights don’t win any more games. Luckily for the Cougars, the Hornets have a win to spare.

e) New Braunfels loses at Clemens.

f) New Braunfels loses at home against Smithson Valley.

 

This improbable scenario would round out the year something like this:

 

  1. Judson (9,0, 7-0)
  2. Clemens (7-3, 5-2)
  3. Smithson Valley (5-4, 5-2)
  4. Canyon (5-5, 3-4)
  5. East Central (5-5, 3-4)
  6. Steele (5-5, 3-4)
  7. New Braunfels (3-7, 2-5)
  8. San Marcos (1-9, 0-7)

 

Obviously, that many ultra-specific events happening in concurrence would seem absurd, but crazier things have happened. If the Cougars beat San Marcos and both New Braunfels and East Central finish 0-2, we may find ourselves in a three-way tie for fifth that no one wants to be in. Overlapping tiebreakers can be weird.

Doomsday Scenario: Any of those six games go wrong. Which is more than likely.

 

San Marcos (1-7, 0-5)

Tiebreakers: East Central (L), Judson (L), Steele (L), Clemens (L), New Braunfels (L), Smithson Valley (Wk. 10), Canyon (Wk. 11)

What they need to make the playoffs: They’re out. Time to get the seniors more playing time and focusing on underclassmen development. Best-case scenario is to play spoiler by beating SMithson Valley or Canyon, but even if they win both, they struggled too much early to make up the necessary ground.

Doomsday Scenario: They get blown out twice to end the year, the coach is fired, every starter transfers to Canyon, the sky falls down, and America is overthrown by Elmo impersonators. Honestly, not much more can go wrong for them. Better luck next year.

 

Anything can happen. This is football, and this article will be irrelevant by the end of tonight’s action. But that truly is why we watch; the magic of an excited crowd is not easily mimicked. We’ll close with official record predictions and a warning: don’t miss this week’s games. Even those that seem like foregone conclusions (San Marcos at Smithson Valley, Judson at East Central) could end up defining this season. If a much-maligned kicker can lead an underdog past Steele, anything can happen.

 

  1. Judson (9,0, 7-0) + +
  2. Clemens (7-3, 5-2) + –
  3. Smithson Valley (5-4, 5-2) ++
  4. Steele (7-3, 5-2) + +
  5. East Central (4-6, 2-5) – –
  6. New Braunfels (3-7, 2-5) – –
  7. Canyon (4-6, 2-5) – +
  8. San Marcos (1-9, 0-7) – –

 

About the Writer
Jackson Posey, Staff Writer

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18.

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