THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Home is good in the playoffs — at least for the big schools

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Last week’s victory by Timberline of Boise at Post Falls was the exception.

Generally, 5A teams from North Idaho have had pretty good success playing at home against teams from the Boise-area 5A Southern Idaho Conference in the state football playoffs.

Coeur d’Alene, which has been in the playoffs every year since 2009, is 8-1 against the Boise-area schools at home over that span. The only loss was to Eagle in the 2009 semifinals; the Vikings haven’t lost at home to a Boise-area team since. The only other visiting team to win at Coeur d’Alene during that span was Madison of Rexburg, a 22-12 triumph in the quarterfinals in 2015.

The road is another story.

Coeur d’Alene has lost its last three road games in the playoffs — at Rocky Mountain of Meridian (2014), at Eagle (2016) and at Rocky (2018). Before that, the Vikings won all four true road games, including a semifinal victory over Highland at Holt Arena in Pocatello.

Lake City had 16 straight playoff appearances (1997-2012), and went 17 times in 18 years (1997-2014).

In that span, the Timberwolves went 9-1 at home in the playoffs against Boise-area schools, starting in 1998 against Cody Pickett and Caldwell, and most recently over Capital of Boise in overtime in 2014.

By comparison, Lake City is 2-12 on the road in the playoffs after last week’s first-round loss at Mountain View of Meridian.

The moral — it helps to be good, but it also helps to be on the top of the bracket. All things being equal, at least in the divisions that don’t use RPI to seed them, the team at the top of the bracket hosts through the semis in Idaho.

FOR SOME reason, home sweet home has not always applied to Timberlake in the state 3A playoffs.

The Tigers have played in the postseason every year but one since 2003.

Thanks to a combination of usually winning the Intermountain League (which earns them a home game in the quarterfinals), coupled with fortunate positioning in the bracket.

Timberlake has played 17 of its 21 playoffs games at home in Spirit Lake.

The Tigers last played on the road in the playoffs in 2008.

Since then, though, Timberlake has been just 3-9 at home in the postseason. Last year, the Tigers won in the quarterfinals before bowing out in the semis.

If Timberlake wins Saturday at home vs. Weiser in the first round of the state playoffs, the Tigers will likely travel to unbeaten Homedale in the semifinals.

Timberlake has never won on the road in the playoffs, and is still looking for its first appearance in the state title game.

Those are a couple of longstanding streaks the Tigers wouldn’t mind snapping in the next couple of weeks.

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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