Before the season begins, before every season begins, the one thing you can almost guarantee coming from the mouths of coaches is how everyone has the same shot at the postseason.
Honestly, though, there are teams you know have a better shot than some others, there are teams you’re not quite sure of and there are others that you know will struggle.
With three weeks left in the regular season, those teams are all starting to line up into their respective categories. There’s still plenty of time for shifting to be done, but those needing to make a move have got to make it this week. There are a few like Sundown, Snyder and Cooper that are living up to their billing.
Let’s look at some of the shoe-ins, some of the maybes and some of the not-so-sures.
■ Frenship: When the year began head coach Brad Davis was confident the Tigers were past the problems of the last two years. But I remember he was sure of that last year too, so I wanted to wait and see. I’m sold. The Tigers are strong on both side of the ball and have the depth to handle injuries, which they’ve been lucky with so far this season.
■ Shallowater: Regardless of what happens this week with Estacado, I think the Mustangs are built for a solid playoff run no matter where they finish in the District 2-3A race. They have speed and ability on offense and a smothering defense that will serve them well in the postseason.
■ Seminole: Well, if last week’s blanking of Monahans doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. The Indians tore the Loboes limb from limb in what was supposed to be a close game. With Jacob Burtch back at quarterback the Indians are as lethal as head coach Chris Burtch said they were at the first of the year.
■ Muleshoe: After losing the first game of the year, the Mules have ripped off six straight wins and have done so in a fashion offensively that’s reminiscent of the 2007 state champion team with a solid passing game and complimentary running game. This Friday will tell a lot against Littlefield, but stopping the Mules will be tough in the postseason.
■ Abernathy: The Antelopes are in the middle of a tough two-week stretch. They outlasted Spearman on the road in the first of the two tests and must pass the other at home against Sanford-Fritch this Friday. Regardless, Abernathy could be one of those teams no one accounts for when the playoffs roll around, and the ’Lopes could surprise.
Jury still out
■ Monterey: The Plainsmen have played well the last two weeks, but we will find out over the next two weeks just how good they are with consecutive games against Amarillo and San Angelo Central. If the Plainsmen are competitive, regardless of whether they win or lose, then they could have a shot at a deep run in the playoffs.
■ Estacado: The Mats have been impressive in their wins, but more troubling is some mistakes made in losses to teams that are exactly the type they will face in the postseason. And speaking of postseason, Estacado’s track record hasn’t been too good lately, certainly not good enough to make them a guarantee for a long run.
■ New Deal: Normally the Lions wouldn’t be in this position, but with their youth, there are still enough questions that persist as to just how good they are or can be. Plus, they’ve had two weeks to sit on the loss to Sundown and now get a desperate Tahoka team on the road.
■ Tahoka: Speaking of the Bulldogs, a season that started like gangbusters has suddenly turned south. After a 5-0 start, Tahoka has lost three straight. They need to show some consistency before moving up.
■ Littlefield: Odd that a team that began the season in the preseason polls would be here, but the roller-coaster ride the Wildcats have been on was unexpected. Even last week’s three-point win over Bushland leaves some concern. They should be a postseason team regardless of the outcome against Muleshoe, but how far they’ll go remains to be seen.
A ways to go
■ Coronado/Lubbock High: Depending on which preseason poll you choose, the Mustangs were considered a playoff team. Lubbock High’s history kept it from consideration. But as of right now, they’re both in the same boat, which is picking up speed down the river and neither have a paddle. Rebuilding could take more time than first thought.
■ Springlake-Earth: We saw during the postseason last year the impact one person could make, and head coach Stan Caffey vowed that he would not be so dependent on one person again. But the Wolverines have had a tough time replacing several key spots. With the district they’re in, there’s still time, but a long way to go, too.
■ Roosevelt: Quite simply, the Eagles may be a year away. There was hope at the beginning of the year for a good season, but the inexperience on the team rears its head at the most inopportune time. They’ll need to put on a heck of a run the last three weeks to make the postseason.
But one thing’s for sure. History has shown us anything can happen, and it usually does.
Amarillo at Monterey: You better get to this one early, not because there will be a lack of seating, but because both teams run the ball so much it could be over in less than two hours. Amarillo’s running game is just a tick better. Amarillo 24, Monterey 14.
Coronado at Tascosa: Coronado’s defense has improved to the point that it’s given the Mustangs a chance to win the last two weeks. Now the offense has to come along. Might not happen this week. Tascosa 35, Coronado 24.
Lubbock High at San Angelo Central: If the Westerners are struggling taking execution from Chapman Field to Lowrey Field, imagine how hard it will be to take it three hours away. San Angelo Central 45, LHS 6.
Frenship at Palo Duro (Thursday): As long as the Tigers aren’t looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Randall, they should be able to handle Palo Duro. It might not be easy, but no tougher than the rest of their schedule. Frenship 41, Palo Duro 13.
Lamesa at Cooper: The Pirates have two tough weeks coming up where their district and playoff fate will be determined. But to make those games matter, they have to take care of Lamesa, which they will do. Cooper 35, Lamesa 13.
Estacado at Shallowater: The Mustangs have had an outstanding season thus far and, athletically, have the best shot at keeping up with Estacado. But the Mats kicked it into another gear last week. Estacado 48, Shallowater 28.
Childress at Roosevelt: The Eagles finally broke into the district win column last week. If they want to stay relevant to the end of the regular season, this one is another just win. Roosevelt 28, Childress 20.
New Deal at Tahoka: With losses to Sundown and Olton, Tahoka is desperate for a win after cruising through the regular season. But New Deal has other ideas. New Deal 24, Tahoka 21.
Last week: 8-0
Season: 51-14 (.785)
GEORGE WATSON IS SPORTS EDITOR OF THE AVALANCHE-JOURNAL. HE CAN BE HEARD AT 6 P.M. WEDNESDAYS ON “THE HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE” ON KKAM 1340 AM.