Football playoffs are right around the corner

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 2:58 pm on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unlike other high school sports, football teams have to earn their way into the postseason for a chance to win a state championship.
Only 256 teams out of the 607 schools sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association will have the opportunity to win that elusive title. The 256 teams are broken down into eight, 32-team divisions. The playoffs begin on Oct. 28 and conclude Nov. 25 and 26 at Ford Field in Detroit.
So far, only one area team has qualified automatically for the playoffs. The Montabella Mustangs (7-1 overall) earned its magic sixth win on Oct. 7 with a win against Onekama.
The Mustangs travel to St. Louis for their final regular season game and a chance to win its eighth game, which would be a school record. An eighth would give them an even better chance of hosting a playoff game as well.
Montabella is one of 185 teams that have already qualified for the postseason, leaving 71 available spots. There are currently 80 teams one win away from qualifying and that includes schools with four wins that play an eight game schedule.
Schools with a 5-3 record heading into Friday must win to guarantee a playoff spot without having to rely on playoff points.
Playoff points is the way the MHSAA decides seeding once the regions are decided and what 5-4 teams get in. You earn playoff points by winning and by your opponents wins. Last year, there were 16 teams with 5-4 records that made the postseason.
Once in, anything can happen. Ask Fulton about that. Last year, Fulton used its 5-4 record and marched all the way to the Division 8 state semifinal before losing 20-14 in overtime to Saugatuck.
Central Montcalm is the only other local team that can guarantee a playoff position. The Hornets (5-3) will travel to face Morley Stanwood (7-1) on Friday. That will not be an easy game.
Right now traditional powers Macomb Dakota, Holt, Beal City and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart all sit at 5-3 as well.
Playoff pressure seems to have begun a week early for some of these schools.
The Greenville Yellow Jackets are 4-4 heading into its road game at Northview (4-4) on Friday. This game will decide who has the better chance of becoming one of the few 5-4 qualifying teams.
Northview currently has 48.875 points and the Yellow Jackets have 45.875 points. Both teams, unfortunately, have slim chances at making the playoffs.
Football teams begin the season knowing they need six wins to make the playoffs. Sometimes it happens and other times it doesn’t. What is guaranteed to happen is the season ends before most teams want it to.

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