Riverside Military Academy senior Adrian Quinones has a peace of mind about his team’s playoff chances, even though the Eagles (6-3, 5-3 Region 8-AA) are still on the postseason bubble. Quinones is under the impression that the Eagles are in the playoffs if they win against Dawson County (3-6, 2-6) tonight.
If Riverside loses, then its fate depends on the other bubble teams, like Banks County (5-4, 5-3), Fannin County (7-2, 6-2) and North Oconee (7-2, 6-2), to see which team earns the final three playoff spots in 8-AA. A loss could put the Eagles in a situation where there could be as much as a three-way tie for the final playoff spot.
"If we win this game, then we’re in the playoffs," Quinones said. "That’s a pretty good feeling."
The win would also secure Riverside Military’s first GHSA playoff appearance in the school’s history.
"I think that’s a pretty good situation to be in, at least you know where you stand and get to control your own destiny," Riverside coach Chris Lancaster said. "I think our team has done a heck of a job.
"This team has done remarkably well under these circumstances."
Looking at Week 11 games in Region 8-AA, Lancaster doesn’t see a situation in play where if Riverside wins it would get shut out of the playoffs. Even if the Eagles finished tied with Banks County, then Riverside would get the playoff edge with head-to-head advantage.
The cumbersome point system used to determine who gets the playoff nod was adopted from the Mississippi High School Association by Region 8-AA coaches before the season started. It eliminates any need for a coin toss, or even a Monday night mini-game situation, which is a good thing to Lancaster and Banks County coach Blair Armstrong.
"I think it’s a good way of doing things and the point system is fair," Lancaster said.
"We don’t have any control besides our game (vs. Union County tonight), and we’ve had that mentality all along," Armstrong said. "We had a chance to lock up a playoff spot on our own, but lost some games we really needed."
Quinones’ teammate and fellow senior Logan Clemens doesn’t want to get all wrapped up in the playoff scenarios. He prefers to just keep it simple.
"We let the coaches coach, and players play," Clemens said. "We know that if we play like we should, then we shouldn’t have any problem.
"This game tonight is a really big game for us."
The 12-point system in play for subregion games awards and subtracts up to 12 points for each game in subregion play. According to Lancaster, it is a reasonable system because it takes the need to run up the score on someone off the table, since no more than 12 points is awarded for a win.
That situation came into play last Friday when Riverside was up on Union County by more than 20 points in the fourth quarter. Instead of feeling the need to keep scoring points, Lancaster was able to put in his second string on the offensive line the final three series, even though they had trouble moving the football.
"I didn’t have to try and keep running up the score to try to secure a playoff spot," Lancaster said.
Even those teams ahead of Riverside Military in the region standings have a lot on the line. Take Fannin County for example. The Rebels could finish as high as No. 2 in the region with a win tonight against North Oconee. Fannin County could also miss out on the playoffs all together if it loses.
"All the way from playing for second place to being out all together, to me that’s tough," Lancaster added.
Jefferson (9-0, 8-0) has already locked up the Region 8-AA title, and will open the state playoffs at home Nov. 14 against the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AA. The Dragons locked up the region title with a 17-16 win against North Oconee last week.