The halfway point of the 2023 high school football regular season has been passed, and the remaining four weeks will include pivotal games each week.
There are three Week 10 playoff spots available in the 4A GSHL, two for the 3A GSHL, four in the 2A GSHL and four in the Trico League.
The first thing astute fans will notice about those allocations is that it seems odd that a four-team league (4A GSHL) receives three playoff berths, but a five-team league (3A GSHL) only receives two.
It’s all about proportions.
There are 51 schools in Class 4A, and 79 in Class 3A. So the four-team 4A GSHL represents a greater proportion of teams in 4A than the 3A GSHL does in 3A.
Here’s a quick glance at the race to the playoffs in each local league over the next four weeks.
As we mentioned, league play in the 4A GSHL begins next week, with Battle Ground playing Union on Thursday (Oct. 12) and Skyview facing Camas on Friday (Oct. 13).
The Skyview-Camas game is the one that a lot of people have had circled on their calendars. Clearly, the winner of that game will be the frontrunner for the league title.
But that Battle Ground-Union is also intriguing. The Tigers are off to their first 5-0 start since 2016, and a win over Union will really show that the Tigers have arrived.
The Tigers have lost their last 13 straight 4A GSHL games and haven’t won a 4A GSHL game over a team not named Heritage since the last time Battle Ground beat Union, which was in 2016.
But if the Tigers beat Union, it will set up interesting matchups in the following two weeks against Skyview, then Camas.
The winner of Friday’s Mountain View-Prairie game likely will find itself as the lone undefeated team in the league after two rounds of league play.
But the league is shaping up with the strong chance of finishing with a three-team tiebreaker — either for first place or for second place, as it happened last season.
This league remains the anything-can-happen league. So every single game can be pivotal, and no team has a cupcake game on the schedule.
Currently, Hudson’s Bay leads the league at 3-0, following by Ridgefield, Columbia River and Woodland at 2-1. If Washougal (1-2) falls to Bay this Friday, the Panthers will be facing an uphill battle for a playoff spot and an even tougher one to avoid the No. 4 seed, which likely will result in a Week 10 playoff matchup against No. 1 Tumwater.
After facing Washougal this week, Bay has got another key matchup next week at Woodland. The Eagles wrap up league play at Columbia River on Oct. 27. Woodland plays at Ridgefield also on Oct. 27.
1A Trico League
La Center (5-0) remains the odds-on favorite to claim another league title. The big question is which team will step up to challenge the Wildcats.
Castle Rock plays at Seton Catholic on Friday, and the winner of that matchup likely will be La Center’s main challenger.
La Center plays at Seton on Oct. 13, and at Castle Rock on Oct. 27.
With three wins over its four Trico opponents, Stevenson remains in the playoff picture in the Trico, although that picture likely won’t clear up until after Week 8.
Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-735-4538, or follow @360TMart on Instagram or X (Twitter).