Prep Pigskin Picks normally runs in Friday’s paper, but this isn’t a normal week.
The final week of the regular season kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight with a monster game. A pair of undefeated teams — Colony and Chugiak — collide in Chugiak with a ton on the line. The winner claims the Railbelt Conference title and the conference’s No. 1 seed for the Division I playoffs.
Luckily for football fans, GCI is broadcasting the game on HD channel 907 or standard channel 1. I will be tuning in to watch this juicy matchup (read below for my pick).
Week 8 usually has a slate of games with playoff implications. The most pivotal game is between West Valley and Lathrop. A Lathrop victory hands the Malemutes the Railbelt Conference’s No. 3 seed and Wasilla the No. 4 seed. A West Valley win would create a three-way log jam with Lathrop and Wasilla for the final two seeds.
The playoff schedule is already set for the two other divisions.
In Division III, Eielson will battle Homer and Nikiski will take on Barrow in semifinal games. The Division II matchups pit Palmer against Thunder Mountain and Soldotna against North Pole — both semifinal rematches from a year ago.
In Division I, East Anchorage and Bartlett clinched the top two seeds, while West Anchorage and Service play each other this week to determine the bottom two seeds.
Should be an interesting three days of high school football.
Palmer’s Rod Christiansen picked up win No. 151 last week to pass Buck Nystrom as the winningest football coach in Alaska.
It took Christiansen 27 seasons to get to get to 151 wins, while Nystrom won 150 games during his 31 years at Eielson and North Pole.
Speaking of wins, I went 12-3 last week to push my overall record to 70-26.
Colony (7-0) at Chugiak (7-0) — These two teams have used different methods to arrive to this point — Colony’s defense has allowed only 57 points this season, while Chugiak — led by senior Derryck Snell’s 27 touchdowns — has scored 291 points. Luckily for football fans, GCI is broadcasting the game on HD channel 907 or standard channel 1 at 7 p.m. tonight. I will be tuning in … MUSTANGS 21, KNIGHTS 20.
Thunder Mountain (5-1) at Juneau (3-3) — These two squads met in Week 3 of the season. That game was won by Thunder Mountain, 10-7, on a game-winning field goal. I expect another close game in this Capital City rivalry … FALCONS 18, CRIMSON BEARS 10.
East Anchorage (6-1) at South Anchorage (2-5) — South nearly scored as many points last week (23) than in the previous six games combined (33). East Anchorage is already slotted as the CIC champion and will most likely be resting varsity players by halftime … THUNDERBIRDS 56, WOLVERINES 7.
Dimond (1-6) at Bartlett (4-3) — After starting the season with a win, Dimond has lost six straight, which included a 23-13 defeat to South last week. Bartlett is already locked in as the CIC No. 2 seed, so the Golden Bears could be dipping from the junior varsity team to avoid injuries to varsity players … GOLDEN BEARS 34, LYNX 7.
Service (3-4) at West Anchorage (3-4) — A pair of teams with identical records will battle for the third and fourth seeds in the CIC. Having played Soldotna and Colony this season, West has had the tougher schedule, which should help in the playoffs … EAGLES 45, COUGARS 21.
Vozneskena (1-4) at Homer (6-1) — Homer’s defense is playing lights out, posting three shutouts in a row. The Mariners are a legit pick to hoist the Division III trophy at the end of the season … MARINERS 61, COUGARS 0.
Houston (3-3) at Redington (4-3) — Redington has had a great season, even though it is not going to end with the school’s first postseason appearance. We are rooting for the Huskies to finish above .500 … HUSKIES 31, HAWKS 28.
Barrow (4-2) at Valdez (0-6) — The Whalers are riding a three-game winning streak into their final regular-season game of the season. This is a good tune-up for Barrow as it prepares for the Division III playoffs. Valdez did score 22 points last week, 20 more than it did in its previous five games combined … WHALERS 59, BUCCANEERS 0.
Seward (1-5) at Nikiski (3-4) — Seward picked up its first win of the season last week, defeating Voz 12-0. Nikiski will be at .500 heading into the Division III playoffs … BULLDOGS 45, SEAHAWKS 0.
Wasilla (2-5) at Palmer (3-4) — The Potato Bowl. One of the best rivalry games in the state. Palmer owns a two-game winning streak in the series and will run past the Warriors in this one … MOOSE 42, WARRIORS 21.
Eielson (5-2) at Monroe (4-3) — Eielson rebounded from the Barrow loss with a convincing win over Nikiski. The Ravens draw Monroe in a tune-up game for the Division III playoffs ... RAVENS 45, RAMS 14.
Soldotna (7-0) at Kenai (3-4) — Kenai was eliminated from postseason play with its loss to Palmer last week, but that doesn’t dampen this rivalry game. Soldotna remains perfect on the season and pushes its winning streak to 57 games … STARS 57, KARDINALS 24.
West Valley (2-5) at Lathrop (2-5) — It’s hard to believe that West Valley — a team Kodiak defeated 21-7 last week — is still in contention to qualify for the Division I playoffs. A Wolfpack win sets up a three-way tie with Lathrop and Wasilla for the final two playoff spots in the Railbelt Conference. Based off of last week’s performance, I’m going … MALEMUTES 28, WOLFPACK 18.
Eagle River (2-5) at Kodiak (3-4) — Since joining the Northern Lights Conference in 2015, Eagle River has not won a conference game. The Bears topped the Wolves 20-0 in 2015 and 52-6 last year. I’m sure Eagle River will be looking to avenge last year’s loss, which was broadcast on GCI. However, Kodiak is coming off its best performance of the season and is primed to finish the season at .500 — a mark it has reached in two of the past three seasons … BEARS 32, WOLVES 14.