FARGO — Five teams could tie for the Eastern Dakota Conference football title. And that means one of those first-place teams would not make the playoffs. The race to the North Dakota Class 3A football postseason is tight.
With one regular-season game remaining, West Fargo Sheyenne and Fargo Davies sit atop of the EDC with a 5-1 record. West Fargo, Fargo South and Fargo Shanley boast 4-2 marks.
Similar conference records heading into the final week before playoffs creates several seeding possibilities, with one that could make seeding tricky — there’s a possibility of a five-way tie for first place in the EDC.
If South upsets Sheyenne, Shanley beats Davies, and West Fargo defeats Grand Forks Central, there would be a tie for first place between the Bruins, Mustangs, Deacons, Eagles and Packers. All would boast 5-2 records heading into the playoffs.
If a five-way tie happens, seeding would come down to a series of tiebreakers. When ties between three or more teams exist, a tiebreaking formula is implemented, according to EDC bylaws.
A top team would be decided by head-to-head competition (wins/losses/ties) between the tied teams. Since the top five teams would have all posted wins and exactly two losses against each other, the No. 1 seed would be the team with the best score differential among the tied teams. A team can earn a maximum of plus-17 points in one game.
If it's a five-way tie, South would most likely risk being in the fifth spot for seeding and not make the postseason. With one game to play, the Bruins have the worst score differential at minus-27 points among the five teams.
No. 2-ranked Sheyenne (7-1, 5-1 EDC) faces South at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. If the Mustangs win, they would clinch the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row. If the Bruins (6-2, 4-2 EDC) pull off a victory, the two teams would have an identical conference record of 5-2. The Bruins sat at No. 4 in the latest Class 3A football poll.
No. 5-ranked Shanley hosts Davies at 7 p.m. Friday at Sid Cichy Stadium. The Deacons and the No. 3 Eagles both have a 6-2 overall record. If the Deacons win, they’ll raise to 5-2 in the EDC, and Davies will fall to an identical conference stance. If the Eagles win, they’ll improve to 6-1, and Shanley will drop to 4-3 in the EDC.
If Sheyenne and Davies both win on Friday and improve to a shared 6-1 EDC record, the Mustangs would still clinch the top spot in the East region, since Sheyenne posted a 35-26 victory over Davies earlier this month.
West Fargo (4-4 overall) has a road game against Central (0-7, 0-5 EDC) at 7 p.m. Friday. A West Fargo win over winless Central would lead the Packers to close out the regular season at 5-2 in league play, clinching a playoff spot.
Plenty of playoff scenarios exist heading into an intense football Friday conference-wide.
The top four teams in the eight-team EDC will advance to the state playoffs, which kicks off with quarterfinals set for Nov. 1. Postseason continues the following week, with the semifinals slated for Nov. 8. The Class 3A title will be played at 6:40 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Fargodome.
On the western of the state, undefeated Bismarck Century (6-0 WDA), Bismarck High (5-1 WDA) and Mandan (4-2 WDA) have clinched playoff berths in the Western Dakota Association.
Minot and Bismarck Legacy, which both sit at 3-3 in the WDA, are set to vie for the No. 4 seed Friday night. Legacy hosts Dickinson, while Minot plays at Williston.