So far this year, the relentless math of the high school football season has gone something like this: 37 divided by seven equals 5.
Thirty-seven playoff-eligible teams in the northern leagues began the season in August, spread across the NIAA’s four divisions. Seven weeks later, only five teams remain with unbeaten records.
Those teams represent some of the biggest schools in Northern Nevada (Reed) and some of the smallest (Pershing County). One isn’t even from Nevada at all (Coleville).
Here’s a look at the five unbeatens, including their chances to complete an undefeated regular season or possibly even claim a 2013 state title.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Raiders’ 35-17 win over High Desert League rival McQueen was one of the pivotal games of the first half of the Division I North season.
Beyond that, Reed crushed three Sierra League foes after opening the season with a nonleague win in Northern California.
REMAINING GAMES: at North Valleys; vs. Reno; vs. Spanish Springs.
CHANCE FOR UNBEATEN SEASON: Very good. Reno and Spanish Springs are dangerous opponents, but both games come at home.
“There’s definitely a sense of pride in coming out and playing well and getting some victories; we’re not going to shy away from it,” Raiders coach Ernie Howren said. “But our kids understand that most of our focus is on league games. That’s the most important unbeaten record we could be striving for.”
CHANCE FOR STATE TITLE: Fair. The Raiders are a confident, talented group, but large-school football in Nevada is played under the shadow cast by Bishop Gorman. It’s going to take a complete, mistake-free game — by Reed or someone else — to beat the Gaels.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: With offense. Lots and lots of offense.
The Greenwave average 53.8 points per game and hasn’t scored fewer than 47 this season. Its closest game — a 48-20 win over a strong Elko team — still finished with a four-touchdown margin.
REMAINING GAMES: vs. Fernley; at Truckee; vs. Lowry.
CHANCE FOR UNBEATEN SEASON: Good. All three remaining opponents are capable, but the Greenwave will be the favorite in each game.
“Like a lot of coaches will tell you, we take them one at a time and just look at the next opponent,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “We try never to get too high or too low. I do know that there’s the potential to have three 8-1 teams in our league, and we don’t want to be one of those teams.”
CHANCE FOR STATE TITLE: Good. There’s no reason that Fallon couldn’t compete with the best the I-A South has to offer, even if some of those schools are significantly bigger.
Pershing County (4-0)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: By beating Division I-A’s Dayton to open the season, then picking up three straight blowout wins. (The Mustangs also played the McQueen junior varsity team; that game is not counted here).
“It’s nice (to be undefeated), and it means you’ve had some success,” Pershing County coach Dave McLean said. “But it’s actually never a part of our thinking. Our whole goal is to make the playoffs, and we don’t allow ourselves to look past the next week’s game.”
REMAINING GAMES: at Yerington; at Battle Mountain; vs. ROP.
CHANCE FOR UNBEATEN SEASON: Either a virtual certainty, or else the journey ends tonight. The Yerington game is the only challenge left on the schedule. Pershing County is light-years better than its other two foes.
CHANCE FOR STATE TITLE: Very good. The Mustangs have won three straight Division III state championships.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: With solid play on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Lions’ results have been among the most impressive of any Northern Nevada team. Yerington has posted four shutouts and given up just 19 points overall, although tonight’s Pershing County game will represent a significant step up in talent level.
On offense, the Lions’ point total has gone up for four straight weeks (41, 46, 51, 56).
REMAINING GAMES: vs. Pershing County; at ROP; vs. West Wendover.
CHANCE FOR UNBEATEN SEASON: Either a virtual certainty, or else the journey ends tonight. The Lions’ situation is identical to Pershing County’s, except the remaining schedule is even easier.
CHANCE FOR STATE TITLE: Very good. The Lions play at the same level as Pershing County, and that puts them a level above Division III South.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: By clobbering five straight opponents.
The Wolves have not yet been challenged, scoring at least 50 points in each of their five wins and averaging 56 points per game.
REMAINING GAMES: vs. Virginia City; vs. Mineral County; at Pyramid Lake.
CHANCE FOR UNBEATEN SEASON: Fair. The Virginia City and Mineral County games will be challenging, although both come at home.
CHANCE FOR STATE TITLE: Unlikely. It’s not that the Wolves aren’t capable, it’s that Pahranagat Valley of Division IV South looks like it might be unbeatable. The Panthers (7-0) have won 64 consecutive games and the past five Division IV state titles.