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Marquee matchup coming up
Intrigue surrounds Friday night's Centennial/Rocky Mountain matchup ...
Published: 10/5/2010 10:37:54 PM
Hey, I'll freely admit it.  If I didn't have work-related obligations, I'd drop my money on a ticket to Friday's 5A SIC football matchup between Centennial and Rocky Mountain.

Yeah, yeah ... "of course he happens to have 'work obligations,'" you're thinking.  But I really do.  Hockey season - and, therefore, the "day job" - is upon us and the Idaho Steelheads have an exhibition game that night.  But, for my tastes, Centennial is the place to be on Friday.

The Grizzlies (4-1) were the state's top-ranked team until last week's loss at Coeur d'Alene where Rocky Mountain saw the Vikings jump out to a 21-0 lead.  Behind the arm of Levi Altringer and the hands of Dallas Burroughs, the Grizz tried to come back but were ultimately foiled by three fourth-quarter turnovers.

(Coeur d'Alene, incidentally, has a big game this week as well, putting their 4-1 mark on the line on the road against unbeaten Vallivue)

Centennial, meanwhile, has been steadily improving since a season-opening loss to Eagle.  Since that game, Centennial (4-1) has put up 56, 41, 41, and 42 points.  We mentioned earlier this season in this very blog space that it was going to be interesting to see if anyone could stop the Patriots offense.

Well, to this point, no one has.  Mike Kirby and Drake Mullenix have been terrific behind the big Patriot offensive line and quarterback Trent Godsey has been good enough to keep the engine rolling while the defense has made great strides in recent weeks.

In steps Rocky - a defense that had given up 43 points in four games prior to giving up 34 at Coeur d'Alene last week - with a host of talented defenders.  Was last week's gashing, courtesy of Zac Kaiser, Chad Chalich, and the rest of the CdA boys from the panhandle, an anomoly?  Or did they expose a weakness that Centennial's powerful offense can also exploit?

That's what makes this interesting because, along with Vallivue, these two teams are in the same division of the Southern Idaho Conference ... making this game critical.  With the Falcons flying a bit under the radar (since they're in Caldwell, presumably, rather than Boise/Meridian), the loser of Friday's game faces the prospect of being the third seed when the SIC cross-over district play-in games ... Division 1 against Division 2 ... come around at the end of October.  Translation - a road game, likely against Eagle or Capital.  Not exactly a best-case scenario, eh?

(Mildly off-point, but while we're talking about "not exactly a best-case scenario," how big is it to come out on top of Division 1?  The teams that finish second, third, and fourth face the prospect of play-in games against Centennial, Vallivue, and Rocky Mountain from Division 2, who are a combined 13-2 thusfar.  Yikes.)

Anyway, back to Division 2.  The winner of Rocky Mountain and Centennial positions itself strongly for a home game in those cross-division games.  Always nice to have home-field when the post-season rolls around.

Hopefully I haven't completely lost you with the play-in game talk.  For clarification's sake, what happens is this:  the top four teams in Division 1 meet up with the top four teams from Division 2.  The Division 1 champ plays the fourth seed from Division 2 while Division 2's champ plays Division 1's no. 4 seed.  Four games, four winners advancing to Idaho's final eight in the 5A state playoffs.  If I lost you earlier, you should be back on the path.

Mark Browning will handle the play-by-play call of the Rocky Mountain-Centennial game Friday night, live on, beginning at 7 PM Mountain time.

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