Saline visits Grand Blanc Friday for its final varsity football contest of the season.
At stake for Saline, quite likely, is the opportunity to play a game at Hornet Stadium, supported by their fans and the boisterous marching band at the edge of the end zone.
Saline clinched its playoff spot two Friday’s ago at Huron. Last week, the clinched the SEC Red with a victory over Monroe.
This is the time of year when Snooze2You, a website that has been serving high school football fans for over a decade now, earns their money. Once you get to about week three in the season, Snooze2You begins predicting what the high school football playoff brackets look like each week.
According to Snooze2You, the playoff picture has changed ever so slightly for Saline. Perhaps for the better, too. Saline (7-1) still sits in the same tough district with Belleville (8-0), Woodhaven (7-1) and Monroe (6-2). The top two seeds in the district will have home games. And seeding is based on playoff points (80 points for defeating a Class A team, 64 for Class B, 48 for Class C and 32 for Class D. Add the points and divide by games played). There are also a scattering bonus points awarded. If you beat a team with 6 wins, you can collect 6 bonus points. But if you beat a winless team, you get zilch on the bonus department.
After week 7, Saline was the third seed, behind Belleville and Woodhaven, but ahead of Monroe.
Last week, even though Saline and Woodhaven each beat a Class A school, Saline leapfrogged Woodhaven because Saline picked up six bonus points for beating Monroe and Woodhaven got nothing for beating the winless Lincoln Park.
That puts Saline in good shape when it comes to playing at home for week one of the playoffs. Saline enter week nine with a two-point advantage on the Woodhaven. Both teams face a Class A team. But Saline visits a 5-3 Grand Blanc while Woodhaven plays a 3-5 Southgate Anderson.
So – if both teams win – Saline should increase its lead. Unless the teams Saline defeated during the regular season fair miserably in week 9 – and really, they should do no worse than 4-4.
By the way, Belleville’s not exactly a lock in week 9. They play Brighton. In week one, Belleville went to Brighton and won 40-35. Brighton hasn’t lost since. So if Brighton returns the favor, things get interesting.
If Saline wins, they should finish with around 107 points. If Belleville loses, they’ll likely finish with around 107 points. So, then the seeding would come down to week 9 bonus points earned by the wins of previously beaten teams.
Bottom line, if Saline wins and Belleville loses, Saline could host the district semifinal and then, if they win, the district final.
The other interesting change comes in Saline’s region.
The way last week’s bracket shaped up – if the Hornets managed to escape their district, the might have marched into a regional championship game against a 7-0 Detroit Cass Tech team.
Well, Cass Tech is 8-0 after Saturday’s win against Detroit Renaissance. But Snooze2You has shifted its map. Saline’s district is now paired with a district including Detroit Catholic Central (6-2), West Bloomfield (6-2), Plymouth (6-2) and Canton (6-2).
It’s also important that we thank Traverse City West for their 5-2 season. Without such a season, the playoff pairing gurus at the MHSAA might put Saline in a district with a west side school. It’s worth keeping an eye on Howell (4-3), Kalamazoo Central (4-3) and Rockford (4-3). If one or more of those teams drops out of the playoff race, we could find ourselves in a district so gerrymandered that Arnold Schwarzenegger might protest.
Joe Palka and the Hornets certainly aren’t thinking beyond the Grand Blanc game. But we sure can.
Here’s hoping for at least one more Friday night at Hornet Stadium.