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THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Memories of 'crazy' tiebreakers

| October 24, 2021 1:30 AM

Coeur d'Alene football coach Shawn Amos and Lewiston head man Matt Pancheri both used the same word to describe Kansas tiebreakers.

"Crazy."

Coeur d'Alene's rout of Lewiston on Friday night, coupled with Post Falls' victory over Lake City, meant Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston and Post Falls all tied for the 5A Inland Empire League title.

And all three will meet for a Kansas tiebreaker Monday at 6 p.m. at Bear Field in Moscow to determine two, and possibly three, berths to the state 5A playoffs.

The tiebreaker is double-elimination, with two teams playing in the first round, with each team getting a series from the opponent's 25-yard line, then the 10 ... until a winner is determined. The winner plays the third team, and so on.

The top two teams automatically advance to the state playoffs this weekend. The winner draws a first-round bye, then hosts a quarterfinal game the following weekend. The runner-up hosts Capital of Boise this weekend.

If either Coeur d'Alene or Lewiston finish third, they would receive the final, at-large, berth to state, and would travel to Eagle in the first round. That at-large berth is based on a criteria vs. "Big schools."

But if Post Falls finishes third, Borah of Boise would receive the at-large berth, and Post Falls' season would be over. So the Trojans have to finish first or second in the tiebreaker to advance.

What's doubly crazy is there will be not one, but two, Kansas tiebreakers in North Idaho on Monday night.

Wallace and Lakeside will meet at 6 p.m. at Post Falls High to determine the Scenic Idaho Conference's lone berth to the state 1A Division I playoffs, after each team won on the other's home field during league play.

CRAZY OR not, the upcoming Kansas tiebreaker(s) got me thinking about past tiebreakers I've covered over the years.

Two jump out right away.

There was one in 2002 at Post Falls between Coeur d'Alene, Lake City and Sandpoint, when all three were 4A schools.

As I recall, it seemed to take all night, with Coeur d'Alene missing a field goal with a chance to advance to the playoffs. The Vikings ended up the odd team out, and Lake City beat Sandpoint in the "game" for the first and second seeds to the playoffs.

That "game" proved significant, as Lake City got to play at home four days later, while Sandpoint had to travel on a short week. The Bulldogs won, but were admittedly gassed the following week, when they lost at Lake City in the semifinals. The Timberwolves went on to win their first state title the following week.

Years earlier, in 1991, Clark Fork and Mullan met at Lakeland High to decide the North Star League's representative to the state eight-man playoffs.

The playoff lasted five plays.

That was back when each team started at the other's 10. Mullan lost a fumble on its second play, Clark Fork ran it in on its third play, and the happy Wampus Cats advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

THE STATE 4A football brackets, fueled by MaxPreps, have been released by the Idaho High School Activities Association.

Sandpoint, which beat Lakeland 37-10 for the 4A IEL title Friday night, is the top seed in the 16-team tourney, and will play host to Mountain Home this week.

Lakeland also earned a berth as the 11th seed, and will travel to No. 6 Skyline of Idaho Falls in the first round.

Seeing Mountain Home on the bracket reminded me the Tigers were the opponent the first time Sandpoint reached the playoffs, in 1986. Mountain Home won 26-3 on a chilly Saturday afternoon in Sandpoint. That was before the football field at Memorial Field was renamed Barlow Stadium, though "Cotton" Barlow's son, Bill, was the Bulldogs coach at the time.

The next year Sandpoint, with Mike Hagadone taking over as head coach, won at Mountain Home in the first round (it was only a four-team tournament in that division then), then lost to Idaho Falls in the state title game at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.

The brackets for the other playoffs have yet to be released, but we know most of the teams in 5A. Mountain View, Rocky Mountain and Rigby earned first-round byes, as will the winner of Monday's Kansas tiebreaker in Moscow.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.

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