It¹s pretty simple this time of year: The teams with the higher seeds are the favorites to come out of the high school football district playoffs.
But who are the schools that could mess with the plans of the favorites? Who are the dangerous darkhorses?
In Class 5, Branson is dangerous. This is a team that¹s been so hard to figure out this season. Coach Steve Hancock¹s team has been rolled by good teams this year (Cassville, Nixa, Ozark, Carthage and Ozark), but the Pirates have that Week 2 win over Bolivar and a win against another playoff team in Bolivar on its schedule.
Expect the Pirates to get to the second round, and maybe give Ozark a better game this time around in the rematch.
Carl Junction is my team to watch in Class 4. Hillcrest is certainly the favorite against the Bulldogs, but Carl Junction is not your typical 3-6 team.
Outside of the Big 8 Conference, Webb City and Carthage were the Carl Junction opponents. And the Bulldogs gave Carthage a decent game, losing 41-28.
Rogersville is the Class 3 defending state champion and the Wildcats have gotten better as the season has gone on.
I might pick them to win the opening game against Salem despite Doug Jones¹ team being on the road. Rogersville won three of its last four games after dropping four of five to start the season, including losing the first three.
El Dorado Springs is seeded fifth in Class 2, District 4, and will go to Ash Grove in the first round.
But a big victory against undefeated Sarcoxie in Week 8 proved the 3-6 Bulldogs could be better than their 3-6 record suggests.
It¹s hard to be a darkhorse as a three seed, but Lockwood is a team to watch in Class 1.
Miller is the top seed in District 2, but the Cardinals just snuck by Lockwood 42-36 in Week 5. With Isaac Lasater at quarterback, Lockwood could upset Joplin McAuley Catholic and Miller en route to the district title.
As for the action to close the regular season, Lebanon topped Parkview 31-21 to claim a share of the Ozark Conference title. (Lebanon secures share of conference championship)
Joining the Jackets as co-OC champions was Hillcrest, which rolled to a victory against Waynesville. (Nixa football sails past Republic)
Camdenton secures its first-round bye in the playoffs with a thrashing at Glendale, its fourth straight win. (Camdenton wins fourth consecutive game, will enjoy a bye next week)
Nixa also rolled against Republic, but there were some fireworks after the game between the coaches. (Nixa football sails past Republic)