Six area football teams are in possession of playoff spots with just one week left to play during the regular season.
Well, folks, this is it. The end of the line.
We’ve reached the final week of the regular season. By the time Sunday rolls around, we will definitively know who’s in and who’s out when the playoffs kickoff Nov. 8. Before we get there, however, there’s time for one last set of games and one last look at FHSAA’s weekly RPI rankings update.
Here’s the skinny:
If the postseason started today, Baker, Crestview, Freeport, Navarre, Niceville and South Walton would all be in, the undefeated Eagles (10-0) and Gators (9-0) both heavy favorites after garnering the top-two seeds in their respective regions. Meanwhile, Choctaw and Walton still have chance if a few things break their way. Fort Walton Beach and Rocky Bayou, however, are out of the picture.
But back to Niceville for a second.
The Eagles wrapped up their first perfect regular season since 2009 this past week with a 57-8 victory against Chiles on Monday in Tallahassee and a 48-0 victory against Leon on Friday in front of the home faithful, which means their final RPI sits at a pristine .677. That number ranks second overall in Region 1-7A behind only Edgewater (.697), fifth overall in Class 7A and 29th overall in the state, regardless of classification. For point of reference, St. Thomas Aquinas leads all schools with a .775 RPI.
After locking up the District 1-7A championship earlier this month, Niceville has a bye this week before its playoff journey begins Nov. 8, likely against whichever team ends up seeded seventh. Right now, Crestview, Navarre and Chiles each remain in contention for that spot.
Speaking of the Raiders and Bulldogs, both seem locked into regional playoff berths.
Crestview (5-4) ranks sixth overall in the region with a .578 RPI and will travel to Madison to wrap up its regular season against Madison County at 7 p.m. Friday.
And Navarre (6-4) ranks seventh overall with a .560 RPI after wrapping up its regular season with a 52-14 victory against Crestview on Friday.
Both the Bulldogs and the Raiders would be slotted down one spot in the playoffs, however, given Winter Springs (5-4) claimed District 4-7A title and will receive the fourth seed by rule despite its .475 RPI.
There’s less confusion in Class 1A: Having won 38 straight regular season games, Baker is the undisputed top seed and in line for first-round bye.
After a 35-0 victory against Jefferson County on Monday and a 27-21 victory against Port St. Joe this past Friday, coach Matt Brunson and the Gators’ RPI sits at a beautiful .692, which leads all of Region 1-1A, Class 1A and ranks 20th overall in the state.
However, Baker is set to put its impressive streaks and standing on the line at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the Gators take on undefeated Blountstown at Tommy Oliver Stadium in Panama City for the Sunshine State Athletic Conference North Florida Championship. The two teams haven’t met since the 2017 postseason, when the Tigers (9-0) beat Baker 41-21 in the state semifinals.
Meanwhile, Freeport (6-3) ranks fourth in Region 1-1A with a .576 RPI despite dropping its final three regular season games and would face Graceville (6-3) in the opening round of the playoffs.
On the flip side, South Walton (5-4) has won two straight, beating Freeport 25-21 this past Friday and Rutherford 40-22 this past Monday to firmly assert itself in the Class 4A playoff race. Phil Tisa and Co. rank third overall in Region 1-4A with a .541 behind only Bolles (.652) and West Nassau (.613) and just ahead of Marianna (.537).
Rounding out Walton County, Bobby More and the Braves (5-4) rank eighth overall in Region 1-3A after winning two straight games against Chipley and Trenton. Their .520 RPI is .075 points off of sixth-place Trinity Christian (.595).
Finally, Choctaw (4-5) ranks ninth in Region 1-5A with a .487 RPI after back-to-back losses to Pine Forest and Pensacola Catholic.
The Indians’ opponent Friday, Fort Walton Beach (3-6) remains ranked 13th in Region 1-6A with a .461 RPI.