And then, there were three.
Seven local teams took the field in the first round of the state football playoffs.
Three teams won — Camas, Mountain View and La Center. All three were the home team.
Four teams lost — Union, Skyview, Columbia River and Woodland. All four had to travel for their games.
Is that a coincidence? Not really.
For one, it’s hard to win on the road, wherever you play.
And in the first round of state, it’s even harder because the top teams, the league champions, are assured of a home game.
But that all ends in the quarterfinals. In the WIAA bracket, the home team is determined by which team is the bottom team on the bracket.
It doesn’t matter what your record is. It doesn’t matter what your rank is.
That’s why top-ranked and 11-0 Camas will travel to play No. 9 and 9-2 Eastlake at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
It’s why No. 10 and 9-2 Mountain View will host No. 2 and 11-0 O’Dea, most likely on Friday night, at McKenzie Stadium.
And it’s why No. 2 and 11-0 La Center will travel to Bellingham to play No. 4 and 9-1 Mount Baker on Saturday (time TBA).
Exact games are expected to be set today.
The brackets are reshuffled every year to give different leagues a shot at that prime “bottom of the bracket” position.
Last year, you’ll remember, Camas hosted first-round and quarterfinal games before advancing to the semifinals at the Tacoma Dome. This year, that spot went to someone else.
Is it a perfect system? No. Is there a better one? I doubt it. And I’ve seen a lot of them proposed.
Sometimes the brackets work for you. Sometimes not. All you can do is play the game.
Consider this: Bellevue will travel to play Peninsula of Gig Harbor this weekend. If the Wolverines win, they will travel to Spokane or Kennewick in the semifinals.
You think Bellevue complains about where it plays?
Winter is here
The winter sports season begins this week with basketball teams, wrestlers and swimmers opening practices. Gymnasts opened practices last week.
And girls bowling begins competition with matches slated for Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week.