Winners of four of their last five games, the Cedar Creek Cougars (5-3) head into their regular season finale against Tensas (1-8) with a lot of uncertainty in the air.
Kickoff for Friday night’s game at Cougar Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
Head coach Matt Middleton’s bunch knows they will be the best team on the field Friday night, but even with a win, what they don’t know is their playoff status.
Entering this week’s game, Cedar Creek is No. 15 in the power ratings in Division IV. The top 16 teams (out of 29) will qualify for the playoffs. However, with Tensas entering the game with only one win, a victory by the Cougars earns only 11 points.
It also gives some other teams behind them in the power ratings a chance to jump them … or does it.
“I think we are close,” said Middleton. “I have some people who worked up the numbers say that with a win we are in. I have also had a few saying we need one or two to lose ahead of us even if we win. I think if we win we will be really close to getting in. It will be up in the air until Saturday morning.”
Nothing is for certain. Even a Cedar Creek win on Friday.
“The focus on just win and (hopefully) get in,” said Middleton. “I have a couple of (our older players) ask a question or two this week, but it is one of those things. Business as usual. Let’s go handle what we can handle and let the chips fall where they may. That’s been the focus for what is a pretty mature team.”
The Cougars three losses this year have all come down to the end. Creek fell 7-6 to St. Frederick (ironically, one of the teams right behind the Cougars in the power ratings). Creek dropped a 33-22 game to No. 1 ranked Ouachita Christian (in a game the Cougars led with less than two minutes to play). And Cedar Creek lost 28-26 to 2A Jonesboro-Hodge.
There is little doubt Cedar Creek is one of the top 16 teams in Division IV.
“It would be sad,” said Middleton when asked about the possibility of not getting into the playoffs. “No matter what happens, the system is broken and it needs to be fixed. But there is no doubt that it would be a complete travesty if we don’t get in this year.”
Tensas has zero chance of qualifying for the playoffs. After winning their season opener 22-6 over Lakeside, Tensas has been outscored 238-42 in eight straight losses.
“They are a one-win team,” said Middleton. “They do have some athletes at some key positions. They have a couple of linebackers that run to the football really well. They are coming in with this being their last one.
“I think they are pretty aware of our situation knowing we have to win to get in. What we want to do is play extremely well and get after it and have a real strong showing. And hopefully come away with a win and a playoff berth.”
The contest can be heard on 101.9 FM with Kevin Bayles and David Cole providing the call of the action.
Photo: Darrell James (dgjames.photoshelter.com)
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