After what happened last year, you'd think I knew better. I picked Central Valley, which had a wealth of skill but dearth of line experience, to place fourth and the Bears wound up tied for first. This year I picked a team with a veteran line, but no skilled position experience sixth. Here they are in first place, two games ahead of their 4A counterparts with two games remaining following Friday's win over Mead.
Victory has set the stage for a wild finish. CV is in the cat bird's seat, four other teams, including the favored Saxons are scrambling for their post-season lives.
CV pulled out all the stops. Special teams star Jake Miller averaged 50 yards on five punts, including a 70-yarder that put Ferris in an early hole and a 55-yarder that left the Saxons with long field in its bid to rally in the game's last minute. Miller booted field goals of 45 and 50 yards. He also pooched a successful on-side kick that he recovered, almost converted on a fake punt and booted three kickoffs into the end zone.
CV also had a 71-yard lateral touchdown run, a 59-yard kickoff return on a reverse prior to the winning field goal, completed a halfback option pass to quarterback Gaven Deyarmin. And the Bears moved Branson Schmidt from the line to tight end/fullback and he had a 25-yard catch, bulling his way over people that set up Miller's first field goal. It was all designed to minimize Ferris scoring opportunities for quarterback Connor Haley, who as it was, threw for 395 yards (although CV stats had him at 426 and if so that is the highest single game total in league history).
Coupled with Mead's win over fumble-prone Gonzaga Prep, the 4A picture looks like this - CV 6-0 (with Gonzaga and Mead left), Mead and University 5-2 (they meet at U-Hi Friday), Prep and Ferris both 4-2 (the Bullpups beat the Saxons earlier this year). Four teams could wind up tied with two losses. CV has the inside track to the No. 1 seed, but the Panthers could still claim it. If the Titans win out they're in. The Saxons (who play Lewis and Clark and U-Hi) have to win out and have another team get a third loss to prolong their season.
And a tiebreaker still looms as a possibility. The fact that both the Panthers and Titans play an extra GSL game is of no particular consequence. If either finishes 7-2 or 6-3 and other 4A teams are 6-2, or 5-3 they will be considered tied based either on equal wins or losses (ie. 6-3, 6-2; 7-2, 6-2 or 6-3, 5-3).