Gridiron Guesses: It's playoff time for some, playoffs on the line for others
By MARK NELKE
and JASON ELLIOTT
This time of year, particularly with all the rain we've had lately, Holt Arena in Pocatello becomes a popular landing spot for Idaho high school football teams in the state playoffs.
Two games tonight and two on Friday are slated for the former Minidome.
One of those games involves the Lakeland Hawks, who take on defending state 4A champion Skyline of Idaho Falls tonight at 7:30 PDT at Holt Arena.
Lakeland is the No. 11 seed (via MaxPreps) in the 16-team 4A playoffs, and Skyline is seeded No. 6.
Skyline normally plays its home games at Ravsten Stadium, a natural grass field it shares with Idaho Falls High on the Idaho Falls campus.
But "our field is in tough shape," Skyline athletic director Gregg Baczuk said of Ravsten Stadium. They hope to replace the field with artificial turf, perhaps as early as next spring.
In the meantime, Skyline reached out to Idaho State in hopes of playing at Holt Arena in the playoffs. ISU already has an agreement in place with the Pocatello School District, which gives those schools priority, and Pocatello and Highland are both hosting state playoff games on Friday. With ISU playing at home on Saturday, that left tonight as Skyline's only option at Holt.
Lakeland is in the playoffs for the second straight year, and ninth time since 2007. But the Hawks are seeking their first playoff win since ’07.
Of Skyline's four losses, two were to 5A schools, one of those a 28-14 setback to Rigby, ranked second in 5A.
Tonight's game can be seen online at NFHSnetwork.com, and heard at IdahoSports.com
As for the picks, Mark and Jason each went 5-2, Mark picking Sandpoint over Lakeland, Jason taking St. Maries over Orofino. Both, including Wallace grad Jason, missed on Wallace beating Lakeside. For the season, Mark is 37-15, Jason 34-18.
State 4A first round
Lakeland (5-4) vs. Skyline (5-4), 7:30 p.m. at Holt Arena, Pocatello
NELKE: Lakeland made the long trek to eastern Idaho in the first round of the playoffs last year, and took Century to the wire before losing 17-14 in Pocatello.
ELLIOTT: Lakeland gets after them tonight and snaps that losing streak.
Grangeville (2-5, 1-0) at St. Maries (1-4, 1-0), 6 p.m.
NELKE: The winner of this game wins the Central Idaho League, and advances to the state 2A quarterfinals next week. The loser is done. The CIL is a combined 4-15 this year, but the Lumberjacks could get in with two wins in a seven-day span.
ELLIOTT: Grangeville might have just a bit too much for St. Maries on Friday night.
Clark Fork (5-2, 1-2 North Star League) at Kootenai (0-7, 0-3), 7 p.m.
NELKE: Clark Fork's last game was two weeks ago, a 52-12 win over Kootenai at home. This is the final game of the season for both.
Clark Fork, 48-18
ELLIOTT: If Kootenai built confidence out of last Friday's game, the Warriors keep it close.
Clark Fork, 44-28