And away we go! As most of you football crazed fans in Bingham County are aware of, the state football playoffs begin tonight! The top ranked and undefeated Firth Cougars will open Bingham County's run at the state tournament when they kick off against Valley at Idaho State's Holt Arena at 8:15 p.m.
Aberdeen will play at Declo on Friday evening while Blackfoot will be closing out their regular season at Rigby before they open the 4A state playoffs next week at home against the second place team out of district three which is currently Bishop Kelly.
On Saturday, the 3A schools kick into action with defending 3A state champion Snake River taking on Sugar-Salem at 4 and the current second ranked team in the state, Shelley taking on Buhl immediately following. Both of those games will be in Holt Arena.
As with seasons past, I will now gaze into my crystal ball and make my bold and fearless predictions as to what will unfold over this glorious football weekend.
Firth (8-0) vs Valley (3-5) (Thursday @ Holt Arena 8:15)
A quick glance at the overall records of these two teams suggest a huge blowout in tonights nightcap at Holt Arena but don't tell the Cougars that because they remember all to well the shoe being on the other foot. Last year, they traveled to Declo in the first round of the 2A state tournament where they were the decided underdog.
On a snowy and bitterly cold evening it was the Cougars who shocked the football world with a huge road knockout of the top ranked Declo squad so don't look for Firth to come into tonights contest with any overconfidence.
Offensively the Cougars are rolling through the season. With a balanced running and passing attack the Cougars are averaging 40.25 points per game including a trio of games where they racked up 50+ points.
Defensively the Cougars stout front seven allow just 9.4 points per game as they have allowed just three teams to crack double-digits on the score board all season long. Perhaps most telling is the fact that in their two non-conference games against 3A opponents, the Cougars allowed just 7 points, those coming to South Fremont midway through the season.
Valley have just three wins on a year in which they averaged just 17.7 points per ball game. They did have their biggest offensive output of the season last Friday however when they tallied 44 points in a conference win over Glenns Ferry. That said, two of their three wins came against a pair of teams who had a combined 1-14 record.
Tonight should be the end of the 2012 season for the Vikings as Firth sends a message to the rest of the 2A classification with a big win….
Cougars 56, Vikings 6
Aberdeen (4-4) @ Declo (8-0) (Friday 7 p.m.)
If there is one thing that can be said about the Aberdeen Tigers its that they are in every ball game. A quick glance at their season schedule shows a team that win or lose is competitive in every ball game.
That said, they draw one of the tougher opening round opponents that they could have drawn as they will have to travel to Declo for a match up with an undefeated and focused Hornet squad.
Declo rolled through their season riding an offensive unit that outscored their opponents by the average score of 54-6.
Conversely, Aberdeen plays it close to the vest with an offensive unit that averages 19 points per ball game and a defense that gives up 17 points an outing.
Aberdeen has played the tougher schedule out of the two teams with a pair of losses to 3A squads as they narrowly fell to American Falls 16-13 in the season opener and then dropped a road date at the defending 3A state champion Snake River Panthers 20-3 in week five.
The common opponent edge clearly goest to Declo as both teams beat sixth district North Fremont during the season with Aberdeen winning 24-20 and Declo crushed the Huskies 54-0 on the opening weekend of the season.
Aberdeen will need to play a perfect game and control the pace of play, much like county brethren Firth did last year at Declo if they hope to win this match up and the Tigers have the horses to do just that.
That said, Declo still remember clearly their opening round disappointment from last season so I expect…….
Declo 34, Aberdeen 18
Snake River (6-3) vs Sugar-Salem (4-4) (Saturday Holt Arena 4 p.m.)
The defending state champions open their post season on Saturday afternoon in an eerily similar manner to last seasons title run.
Step back a year and you can remember a 5-3 Snake River squad who took on an opening round opponent whom they had played earlier in the season. Just like last year, Snake River will be facing off in a rematch. This year, they will be banging heads with the Diggers of Sugar-Salem. Back in week three the Diggers shocked the Panthers 28-24 in Sugar-Salem.
From there, the two teams have taken decidedly different tracks with the Panthers currently riding a five game winning streak, including a dominating sweep of their conference by a combined total score of 129-12.
Conversely, the Diggers are limping into the playoffs after dropping three of their last four games and have been outscored 91-24 in the last two weeks.
Coach Jeff Dalley has the Panthers peaking at just the right time and a neutral field at Idaho State's Holt Arena should take away any advantage that the Diggers may have over the Panthers.
Snake River's defense are in a dominating mode at the moment and Sugar-Salem are having trouble scoring.
Look for the Panthers to avenge their earlier loss to the Diggers when the win means the most….
Snake River 28, Sugar-Salem 20.
Shelley (8-0) vs Buhl (2-6) (Saturday Holt Arena 7 p.m.)
It should be a blow out of monumental proportions during the late game at Holt Arena on Saturday night as the undefeated Mountain Rivers Conference Champion Shelley Russets take on the third place Buhl Indians out of the fourth district.
Shelley rolls into the playoffs with an unblemished 8-0 mark on the season which includes two wins over 5A squads and two wins over 4A opponents. Playing up in classification has the Russets battle tested and ready for a long march into the 3A tournament which should begin on Saturday.
Conversely Buhl has struggled mightily throughout the season with their two wins coming at the expense of a 1-7 Filer squad and 2A Wendell.
Shelley's defense has been superb all season long as they have allowed just 10 points per game while setting up the high powered offense that has lit up their opponents for an average of 42 points per outing.
Chad Leckington has been equally effective as a passer and as a thrower with a 6 touchdown game already to his credit.
Surely the talk about Buhl this week is of shocking the world and that nobody respects them. Talk all you will, this game will not be close. Look for Shelley to score early and often……
Shelley 56, Buhl 6
Blackfoot (7-1) @ Rigby (1-7) (Friday 7 p.m.)
In the lone regular season game from Bingham County teams this week the 5-6 High Country Conference champion Blackfoot Broncos will travel north to Rigby on Friday evening. In the grand scheme of things the final outcome of the game means nothing towards the state tournament or in the standings as Blackfoot has already clinched the top seed in the upcoming state tournament along with the regular season conference championship.
Still, Blackfoot would like nothing more than a big win propelling them forward into next weeks opening round of the state tournament so look for the Men in Green to come out firing on all cylinders to begin the game.
Friday nights game will be Rigby's playoff game so expect the Trojans to come out with nothing to lose and put up a good fight early.
Blackfoot's overall athleticism will win the day however as the Broncos focus their attention on next weeks opening round…..
Blackfoot 49, Rigby 13