• December 20, 2014

District 8-5A playoff picture all mixed up as teams vie for position

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 4:30 am | Updated: 11:36 am, Wed Sep 3, 2014.

It is not a race. Nothing is really going to be decided tonight.

In fact, the District 8-5A playoff race will ultimately be decided over the final three weeks of the season, maybe not until the final games and even then, the standings could still be jumbled with ties.

Waco Midway seems to have set itself apart from the rest of the district. The Panthers have sole possession of first place in the district and are the only team without a single loss. They’re a favorite, almost a lock.

But after Midway, two teams — Harker Heights and Temple — have one loss and are tied for second. After that, three times have two losses — Belton, Copperas Cove and Killeen — and are all tied for fourth, that last, coveted playoff position. The scenarios are almost too numerous to mention and the standings may not even clear up at the end of the regular season.

So, no, it is not a race. It’s an endurance test, one where the players will be elbowing and fighting their way for position for the next three weeks.

Strong Finishers: Waco Midway Panthers (7-0, 4-0)

The 11th-ranked Panthers have had the target on their backs the entire season and all they’ve done is out-score their opponents 304-116 — 195-75 in district — with 8-5A’s second-ranked offense and defense. They’ve had their close calls, but they’ve not yet been toppled. Temple trailed just 21-20 at halfime, Copperas Cove trailed 35-12 in the fourth quarter before ultimately losing by 10 and Killeen trailed by 20 in the third quarter but had a chance to cut that to a single score early in the fourth. Really, there’s very little standing between Midway and an undefeated district title in its first season as a 5A school.

Biggest Game: Belton (Nov. 9, At Hewitt) — The Tigers already upset Copperas Cove and may be needing to pull off one more at the end of the season to make the playoffs. While the Panthers will probably be closing in on a 10-0 season, Belton was one of just two teams last year to beat them — the other was five-time 4A state champion Lake Travis in the Division I-4A state title game.

Critical Mass: Harker Heights (3-4, 3-1)

After a disastrous start – 0-3 through their nondistrict schedule and injuries to center Darius James and running back Marcus Anderson II — the Knights are sitting second in the district and need just a single win to finish with at least a share of fourth-place.

But a share of fourth-place doesn’t do the Knights much good because of their loss to Killeen and slim, 7-0 win over Belton. Plus, Heights finishes with Temple, Midway and Copperas Cove in what is the toughest closing stretch in the district.

Biggest Game: Temple (Oct. 26, At Temple) — While an upset of Cove is not out of the realm of possibility, it wouldn’t help the Knights if they lose to Temple. Already with a loss to Killeen and just a 7-0 win over Belton, Heights doesn’t have a lot of tie-breaking collateral if it finishes in a three-way tie with the Tigers and Roos.

Hard to catch: Temple (5-2, 3-1)

Zach Allen, Chad President and the Wildcats’ district-leading offense have put a lot of points of the board, unfortunately, their district-worst defense has also allowed a lot of teams to keep up. Temple, though, is sitting comfortably in second place after the first four games — losing only a lopsided game to Midway. That means Temple’s final three games are crucial, because all three opponents — Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Killeen — are major players to make the playoffs as well.

Biggest Game: Harker Heights (Oct. 26, At Temple) — The Wildcats’ high-flying offense will be tested by the Knights’ top ranked defense and a loss puts Temple in must-win mode against Cove and Killeen, two teams who have offenses that can exploit the Wildcats’ defense.

Riding the tide: Belton (5-2, 2-2)

The last time the Tigers beat Cove, they went on to win the District 12-5A championship in 2010. In 2012, their win over the Bulldawgs just got them back on the same track as everyone else still fighting for a chance at the playoffs. Disadvantaged by a district-opening loss to Harker Heights, the Tigers have to win two of their final three or else risk falling behind the already-crowded pack.

Biggest Game: Killeen (Oct. 26, At Fort Hood) — Closing the season with one-win Shoemaker and undefeated Midway, the Tigers’ playoff hopes rely on a win over the Roos. Otherwise, they’d be forced to win their last two — including a win over the No. 11 Panthers — and would still need help.

Stopping the skid: Copperas Cove (4-3, 2-2)

The Bulldawgs have lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2003 — the year they didn’t make the playoffs — but still have to be considered a favorite to make an eighth-straight postseason. Still, for the first time in recent memory, Copperas Cove looks beatable and its final three opponents — Ellison, Temple and Harker Heights — will try to take advantage of the Bulldawgs’ recent troubles, especially if they continue against the upset-minded Eagles, who nearly toppled both the Knights and Wildcats.

Biggest Game: Ellison (Oct. 26, At Cove) — While the Bulldawgs will be the heavy favorites, Ellison has played extremely well against playoff-contenders the last two weeks in a last-second loss to Temple and an overtime loss to Harker Heights. Cove can ill afford a third-straight loss; it would be detrimental to its playoff hopes.

Chugging along: Killeen (5-2, 2-2)

Wins over Copperas Cove and Midway would’ve been nice, but the Roos’ season hinges on their final three games against Belton, Ellison and Temple. So far, Killeen has won necessary games against teams it needed to beat, but is still at least two wins from contending for a fifth-straight playoff berth. Ellison doesn’t look like a team riding a 17-game losing streak and Temple and Belton are just as much in the middle of the hunt as the Roos.

Biggest Game: Belton (Oct. 26, At Fort Hood) — Because of the Tigers’ loss to Harker Heights, this game is especially important if the three teams finish with identical records at the end of the regular season.

Watch out for:Ellison (0-7, 0-4)

Moreso than any other team in the district, the Eagles have made tremendous strides the last two weeks with near upsets of both Harker Heights and Temple. Unfortunately, Ellison is peaking too late in the season, but not too late to salvage its final three games against Copperas Cove, Killeen and Shoemaker. The Eagles could win as many as two games — maybe all three if they keep their turnovers to a minimum and the Bulldawgs’ can’t get out of their talespin — and is in a position to ruin someone else’s stretch run.

Biggest Game: Killeen (Nov. 2, At Leo Buckley) — The last time the two teams met in a district game, the Eagles clinched a playoff spot while also eliminating Killeen. While Ellison may be a longshot to make the postseason, it could keep its oldest rival out as well.

What happened to?: Shoemaker (1-6, 0-4)

Johnny Jefferson looked unstoppable and the Grey Wolves were on the cusp of being undefeated going into their bye week before the opening of district. But after a losing a couple of bad bounces in the preseason, Shoemaker can’t catch a good one to save its season. Jefferson, who was on pace to run for 2,400 yards after rushing for more than 700 in preseason, hasn’t had a single 100-yard game since the before the start of district and the Grey Wolves haven’t looked as competitive, even, as they were a year ago when they were mired in the midst of their 31-game losing streak.

Biggest Game: Ellison (Nov. 9, At Fort Hood) — It was the win that snapped their infamous losing streak last year, but the Grey Wolves had been playing better ball during the season leading up the game. This year, the roles are reversed as the Eagles have lost back-to-back winnable games in the last two weeks.

By Kevin Posival

Killeen Daily Herald

It is not a race. Nothing is really going to be decided tonight.

In fact, the District 8-5A playoff race will ultimately be decided over the final three weeks of the season, maybe not until the final games and even then, the standings could still be jumbled with ties.

Waco Midway seems to have set itself apart from the rest of the district. The Panthers have sole possession of first place in the district and are the only team without a single loss. They’re a favorite, almost a lock.

But after Midway, two teams — Harker Heights and Temple — have one loss and are tied for second. After that, three times have two losses — Belton, Copperas Cove and Killeen — and are all tied for fourth, that last, coveted playoff position. The scenarios are almost too numerous to mention and the standings may not even clear up at the end of the regular season.

So, no, it is not a race. It’s an endurance test, one where the players will be elbowing and fighting their way for position for the next three weeks.

Strong Finishers:

Waco Midway Panthers (7-0, 4-0)

The 11th-ranked Panthers have had the target on their backs the entire season and all they’ve done is out-score their opponents 304-116 — 195-75 in district — with 8-5A’s second-ranked offense and defense. They’ve had their close calls, but they’ve not yet been toppled. Temple trailed just 21-20 at halfime, Copperas Cove trailed 35-12 in the fourth quarter before ultimately losing by 10 and Killeen trailed by 20 in the third quarter but had a chance to cut that to a single score early in the fourth. Really, there’s very little standing between Midway and an undefeated district title in its first season as a 5A school.       

Biggest Game: Belton (Nov. 9, At Hewitt) — The Tigers already upset Copperas Cove and may be needing to pull off one more at the end of the season to make the playoffs. While the Panthers will probably be closing in on a 10-0 season, Belton was one of just two teams last year to beat them — the other was five-time 4A state champion Lake Travis in the Division I-4A state title game.

Critical Mass:

Harker Heights (3-4, 3-1)

After a disastrous start – 0-3 through their nondistrict schedule and injuries to center Darius James and running back Marcus Anderson II — the Knights are sitting second in the district and need just a single win to finish with at least a share of fourth-place.

But a share of fourth-place doesn’t do the Knights much good because of their loss to Killeen and slim, 7-0 win over Belton. Plus, Heights finishes with Temple, Midway and Copperas Cove in what is the toughest closing stretch in the district.

Biggest Game: Temple (Oct. 26, At Temple) — While an upset of Cove is not out of the realm of possibility, it wouldn’t help the Knights if they lose to Temple. Already with a loss to Killeen and just a 7-0 win over Belton, Heights doesn’t have a lot of tie-breaking collateral if it finishes in a three-way tie with the Tigers and Roos.

Hard to catch:

Temple (5-2, 3-1)

Zach Allen, Chad President and the Wildcats’ district-leading offense have put a lot of points of the board, unfortunately, their district-worst defense has also allowed a lot of teams to keep up. Temple, though, is sitting comfortably in second place after the first four games — losing only a lopsided game to Midway. That means Temple’s final three games are crucial, because all three opponents — Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Killeen — are major players to make the playoffs as well.

Biggest Game: Harker Heights (Oct. 26, At Temple) — The Wildcats’ high-flying offense will be tested by the Knights’ top ranked defense and a loss puts Temple in must-win mode against Cove and Killeen, two teams who have offenses that can exploit the Wildcats’ defense.

Riding the tide:

Belton (5-2, 2-2)

The last time the Tigers beat Cove, they went on to win the District 12-5A championship in 2010. In 2012, their win over the Bulldawgs just got them back on the same track as everyone else still fighting for a chance at the playoffs. Disadvantaged by a district-opening loss to Harker Heights, the Tigers have to win two of their final three or else risk falling behind the already-crowded pack.

Biggest Game: Killeen (Oct. 26, At Fort Hood) — Closing the season with one-win Shoemaker and undefeated Midway, the Tigers’ playoff hopes rely on a win over the Roos. Otherwise, they’d be forced to win their last two — including a win over the No. 11 Panthers — and would still need help.

Stopping the skid:

Copperas Cove (4-3, 2-2)

The Bulldawgs have lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2003 — the year they didn’t make the playoffs — but still have to be considered a favorite to make an eighth-straight postseason. Still, for the first time in recent memory, Copperas Cove looks beatable and its final three opponents — Ellison, Temple and Harker Heights — will try to take advantage of the Bulldawgs’ recent troubles, especially if they continue against the upset-minded Eagles, who nearly toppled both the Knights and Wildcats.

Biggest Game: Ellison (Oct. 26, At Cove) — While the Bulldawgs will be the heavy favorites, Ellison has played extremely well against playoff-contenders the last two weeks in a last-second loss to Temple and an overtime loss to Harker Heights. Cove can ill afford a third-straight loss; it would be detrimental to its playoff hopes.

Chugging along:

Killeen (5-2, 2-2)

Wins over Copperas Cove and Midway would’ve been nice, but the Roos’ season hinges on their final three games against Belton, Ellison and Temple. So far, Killeen has won necessary games against teams it needed to beat, but is still at least two wins from contending for a fifth-straight playoff berth. Ellison doesn’t look like a team riding a 17-game losing streak and Temple and Belton are just as much in the middle of the hunt as the Roos.

Biggest Game: Belton (Oct. 26, At Fort Hood) — Because of the Tigers’ loss to Harker Heights, this game is especially important if the three teams finish with identical records at the end of the regular season.

Watch out for:

Ellison (0-7, 0-4)

Moreso than any other team in the district, the Eagles have made tremendous strides the last two weeks with near upsets of both Harker Heights and Temple. Unfortunately, Ellison is peaking too late in the season, but not too late to salvage its final three games against Copperas Cove, Killeen and Shoemaker. The Eagles could win as many as two games — maybe all three if they keep their turnovers to a minimum and the Bulldawgs’ can’t get out of their talespin — and is in a position to ruin someone else’s stretch run.

 Biggest Game: Killeen (Nov. 2, At Leo Buckley) — The last time the two teams met in a district game, the Eagles clinched a playoff spot while also eliminating Killeen. While Ellison may be a longshot to make the postseason, it could keep its oldest rival out as well.

What happened to?:

Shoemaker (1-6, 0-4)

Johnny Jefferson looked unstoppable and the Grey Wolves were on the cusp of being undefeated going into their bye week before the opening of district. But after a losing a couple of bad bounces in the preseason, Shoemaker can’t catch a good one to save its season. Jefferson, who was on pace to run for 2,400 yards after rushing for more than 700 in preseason, hasn’t had a single 100-yard game since the before the start of district and the Grey Wolves haven’t looked as competitive, even, as they were a year ago when they were mired in the midst of their 31-game losing streak.

Biggest Game: Ellison (Nov. 9, At Fort Hood) — It was the win that snapped their infamous losing streak last year, but the Grey Wolves had been playing better ball during the season leading up the game. This year, the roles are reversed as the Eagles have lost back-to-back winnable games in the last two weeks.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Featured Events