EAST BREMERTON — Week 9 is finally here, but very little of the playoff picture is settled for prep football teams in Kitsap County.
We know so far that North Kitsap will make the playoffs regardless of Friday’s results. But after that, the picture is still quite murky.
Three teams remain in contention for two spots — Sequim, Bremerton and Olympic. The Knights are on the outside looking in at the moment, having lost 49-14 to Olympic last week, which gave them a second league loss. The Wolves and Trojans have just one league loss and the Vikings are undefeated.
However, these four teams match up with one another in the final regular-season week. North Kitsap heads to Olympic and Bremerton makes the trip up to Sequim.
This leaves us with four possible scenarios. The Olympic League will use four criteria to break ties: head-to-head record, points differential among tied opponents (capped at 14 points), point differential among league opponents (capped at 14 points) and a pre-season number draw, but the last one can’t be used to eliminate a team from a postseason berth.
Scenario No. 1 is the most likely, based on the teams’ current records — and it’s also the simplest. If North Kitsap beats Olympic and Sequim beats Bremerton, North Kitsap would be 7-0 and finish first. Sequim would finish second with a 6-1 record and Olympic would be third at 5-2.
Scenario No. 2 has North Kitsap beating Olympic and Bremerton beating Sequim. This would result in a three-way tie for second among Bremerton, Sequim and Olympic. The league would use the point differential tiebreaker. Olympic would be established at 0, having lost to Sequim by more than 14 and beaten Bremerton by more than 14. If Bremerton were to defeat Sequim by 13 or less, Sequim would have a positive differential and move on to the playoffs, while Bremerton would still be out. If the Knights win by 14 or more, they could get in if North Kitsap tops Olympic by more than 12.
In Scenario No. 3, Olympic beats North Kitsap and Sequim defeats Bremerton. No matter how you slice it, Bremerton is eliminated. The other three teams move on in some order, depending on the resulting point differentials between the three teams. I’ll spare you the calculus on this one.
In Scenario No. 4, Olympic beats North Kitsap and Bremerton tops Sequim. Olympic gets the No. 1 seed with the head-to-head victory over North Kitsap and Bremerton gets the No. 3 seed. Sequim’s season ends.
WEEK 9 GAMES
With that out of the way, on to this week’s games and the picks. I finished 5-1 again last week. My only bad pick was Central Kitsap, which lost to Capital and now puts itself in a must-win game against Gig Harbor this week.
FRIDAY NOV. 1
North Kitsap (5-0, 6-2) at Olympic (4-1, 6-2), 6:30 p.m.
This is the game of the week. Odds are that once I make this pick, I’m going to spend just about every moment until kickoff questioning it. Both teams have dominated most of the Olympic League. Right now, the difference between the two is that North Kitsap beat Sequim while Olympic did not. And the Trojans beat Bainbridge while the Vikings did not. But those games were played in the first three weeks of the season, which seems like ages ago for both teams. Olympic is coming off an emotional win over Bremerton while North Kitsap has played the league’s bottom three teams in the last three weeks. Are the Trojans a bit sharper and ready for a big game because of that? Or are the Vikings more finely tuned and brimming with confidence after averaging 43 points in the past three weeks?
Both can go either way. I’ll go with the undefeated team. Here’s your bulletin board material.
The pick: North Kitsap, 31-28.
Bremerton (3-2, 5-3) at Sequim (4-1, 7-1), 6:30 p.m.
The Knights had a tough game last week against Olympic. The Trojans turned their turnovers into touchdowns, but they lost a few key players to injury throughout the course of the game. Bremerton is also the last team to beat Sequim at home during the regular season, having prevailed 30-22 over the Wolves in 2017. They could surprise here, but the Wolves have been the better team over the past two years and very tough to beat at home.
Sequim wins and gets into the playoffs.
The pick: Sequim, 28-15.
Central Kitsap (3-3, 4-3) at Gig Harbor (4-2, 6-2), 7 p.m.
The Cougars are averaging just 10 points per game in their South Sound Conference games this season. That won’t be enough against the likely playoff-bound Gig Harbor. The defense should continue to be stout, but unless Central Kitsap can find a way to get into the end zone three times, it’s not looking good for them.
The pick: Gig Harbor, 21-7.
Kingston (2-4, 3-4) at Tenino (0-4, 2-6), 7 p.m.
The Bucs have been playing well over the past several weeks and roll into this game on the heels of a league win over North Mason without their top running back.
Kingston moves to .500 this week against 1A Tenino.
The pick: Kingston, 32-6.
Battle Ground (1-3, 2-6) at South Kitsap (1-7, 1-7), 7 p.m.
The Wolves get their non-league game at home this year, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to it after going through the grinder that is the SPSL season. Battle Ground prevailed 45-7 last year, but South Kitsap is much better than they were a year ago and should look more like the team that took the field against Rogers and Curtis.
The Wolves get back into the win column and take a little momentum into a potential Week 10 consolation game.
The pick: South Kitsap, 21-14.
SATURDAY, NOV. 2
Klahowya (2-2, 2-5) at Cascade Christian (4-0, 7-0), 7 p.m.
I love what the Eagles have done this year, but they will be overmatched in this one against Cascade Christian quarterback Parker Johnson, a Yale commit, who has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns already this season. The final score here isn’t a reflection of Klahowya’s talent. Rather, it tells you how dominant Cascade Christian has been and will continue to be this year.
The pick: Cascade Christian, 48-7.
Week 8 record: 5-1.
Season record: 21-3.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.