HUNTSVILLE — Scott High's open date has finally arrived. Every football team in Tennessee has one of them, falling at various points in the season, and uses them as an opportunity to rest up and get healthy before resuming play.
And, in some cases, to watch a little more football.
In the Highlanders' case, they will be watching two games very closely on Friday, as their playoff hopes hang in the balance. Specifically, Scott will be paying special attention to a game taking place in Sevier County.
Kingston travels to Pigeon Forge on Friday, and the Highlanders will be rooting for the Tigers. If Scott High is to make the playoffs, Pigeon Forge must beat Kingston.
There are other things that have to happen, but everything hinges on the Tigers' ability to defeat the Yellow Jackets as a decided underdog.
Scott High's 21-0 win over Northview Academy last week kept the Highlanders' playoff hopes alive, but they don't control their own destiny. There are four things that have to happen for Scott to get in -- two of them this week and two of them next week. Fortunately, two of those things look very likely, and one looks somewhat likely. Unfortunately, one doesn't look especially likely.
This week, in addition to Pigeon Forge beating Kingston, Austin-East has to beat Northview Academy. Next week, Scott High has to beat Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg-Pittman has to beat Kingston.
If all four happen, Scott is in. If any of the four do not happen, Scott's season will end against Pigeon Forge next week.
Austin-East, of course, is likely to beat Northview. It would be a monumental upset for the Cougars to defeat the Roadrunners, who are unbeaten in region play. Gatlinburg is also likely to beat Kingston. And it will be tough for Pigeon Forge to travel to Huntsville and get a win over the Highlanders. Those are the three things that seem likely to happen. Unfortunately, it's the fourth one -- Pigeon Forge defeating Kingston -- that seems like more of a long shot.
Here's how it breaks down:
Three teams in Region 2-3A have their playoff positions determined. Alcoa and Austin-East will be the top two seeds, with first round playoff games at home. Gatlinburg will be the third seed.
Of the remaining four teams in the region, only one has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Pigeon Forge does not have a viable path to the postseason. The other three -- Northview, Kingston and Scott -- are still very much in the hunt.
Technically, Scott is the only of the three teams that does not control its own destiny. However, considering Northview's only remaining region game is against Austin-East, it's probably safe to say that the Cougars have very little control over their destiny.
Ironically, it is the team with the most control over its own destiny -- Kingston -- that has the toughest road to the postseason. And even though Northview Academy may have little control over its destiny, the Cougars are in the best position for a playoff bid; most scenarios favor Northview capturing Region 2's No. 4 seed.
With two region wins, Northview would be the No. 4 team if the season ended today. Since Scott and Kingston each have one region win, and Pigeon Forge does not have a region win, the Cougars could clinch the No. 4 seed outright with a win over Austin-East. That would give them a third region win. The only other team that has the ability to get a third region win is Kingston. But if Northview Academy and the Yellow Jackets wind up tied, Northview has the head-to-head tiebreaker because it defeated Kingston earlier this season.
Since it's extremely unlikely that Northview will defeat Austin-East, it's somewhat safe to assume that the Cougars will finish with a region record of 2-4. Here's what has to happen to prevent Northview from locking down the final playoff spot:
• If Pigeon Forge were to upset both Kingston and Scott High, the Tigers would finish with a region record of 2-4 and tie Northview Academy. However, Northview has the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of its win over Pigeon Forge earlier this season. Thus, there's no viable path to the postseason for the Tigers.
• If Kingston defeats Pigeon Forge and loses to Gatlinburg-Pittman, while Pigeon Forge defeats Scott High, Northview and Kingston would be tied at 2-4. However, Northview has the head-to-head tiebreaker since it defeated Kingston.
• If Scott High defeats Pigeon Forge while Kingston loses to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Northview and Scott would be tied at 2-4. Scott High has the head-to-head tiebreaker since it defeated Northview.
• However, if Kingston defeats Pigeon Forge while losing to Gatlinburg, and Scott High defeats Pigeon Forge, there's a three-way tie between Northview, Kingston and Scott at 2-4. This is the most likely scenario. In such a situation, the head-to-head tiebreaker would be rendered moot because Northview defeated Kingston, Kingston defeated Scott, and Scott defeated Northview. After the head-to-head tiebreaker is tossed out, the next tiebreaker is overall wins. Northview has four of them; Scott and Kingston each have only two. Scott cannot catch Northview; Kingston can only catch Northview by defeating Gatlinburg, which would eliminate the theoretical tie. Therefore, Northview would win the tiebreaker and be the No. 4 seed.
So, in a nutshell, Scott High needs Pigeon Forge to defeat Kingston on Friday. If that happens, there's a very good chance that the rest of the dominoes will fall the Highlanders' way. If that doesn't happen, the Highlanders' playoff hopes will have ended.