Of all their 5A Inland Empire League opponents in recent years, the Coeur d’Alene Vikings’ toughest foe has been the Post Falls Trojans.
And in most of those years, Post Falls has been a decided underdog.
Not this year.
Post Falls comes into Friday’s 7 p.m. showdown at Coeur d’Alene High with the better record. The Trojans are 8-0, the Vikings 6-2 — with their two losses against Folsom (Calif.) and at Camas (Wash.), the defending Washington 4A champions.
Both beat Mead in nonleague play, and handled Lake City and Lewiston in their first two league games.
Coeur d’Alene has played a fast-tempo, no-huddle offense for years. This year, Post Falls shifted from its traditional ground-and-pound offense to a similar up-tempo attack.
“They’re usually like Lake City ... they run fast,” Coeur d’Alene coach Shawn Amos said. “Definitely a different tempo. Both teams go fast; Post Falls goes really fast.”
Both teams have already qualified for the state 5A playoffs. Friday’s winner earns a first-round bye, and hosts a quarterfinal game in two weeks. The loser plays at home next week in the first round.
As for the picks, myself and Jason, the Wallace High grad, each went 7-3. I picked up a game when Timberlake upended Bonners Ferry, but the ex-Miner got it back on Saturday when Boise State whupped up on San Diego State.
After eight weeks, yours truly is 55-21, Jason 53-23.
All games Friday at 7 p.m.
Post Falls (8-0) at Coeur d’Alene (6-2)
NELKE: Hopefully the rain predicted for Friday will not fall between 7 and 10 p.m. This could be one of the most entertaining games in recent memory — as well as a statistician’s nightmare. Both teams run the next play so fast, there’s little time to properly record the previous play. The game could come down to who has possession last. Because the game is at Cd’A, we’ll give the Viks a slight edge.
Coeur d’Alene, 72-68
ELLIOTT: Two of the last three games between these schools have been candidates for those ESPN Instant Classics, you know, if they had television cameras at the field long enough to capture it. Until next time?
Post Falls, 45-42
Lewiston (4-4) at Lake City (2-5)
NELKE: With both teams out of the playoff hunt, this season finale could come down to which team wants to play more. Lake City didn’t play badly in its first two league games — it’s just that Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene are really, really good. Because Lake City is at home ...
Lake City, 24-20
ELLIOTT: Lake City looked good in wins over East Valley and Sandpoint, as if they’re building toward something in the near future. That future starts on Friday.
Lake City, 21-12
Lakeland (3-5) at Clarkston (4-3)
NELKE: Just when it appeared Lakeland was rolling toward the 4A Inland Empire League title, Sandpoint whipped the Hawks last week to thrust itself into the title mix. Lakeland will be keeping an eye on Sandpoint’s game at Moscow — if Sandpoint wins, the Bulldogs are league champs and earn a first-round playoff bye, and the Hawks travel in the first round next week. If Moscow wins, we’re looking at a Kansas tiebreaker to decide the two playoff berths.
ELLIOTT: Clarkston might be a touch better than Lakeland on Friday.
Priest River (3-4) at Timberlake (1-6)
NELKE: Timberlake, which was winless heading into last Friday, can make the state 3A playoffs with a victory over the Spartans. Priest River might be considered a slight favorite, but I think the Tigers, at home, find a way to keep their long playoff streak alive.
ELLIOTT: The Battle for the Buck hits the football field on Friday and for some reason, I don’t see that streak ending this year.
St. Maries (4-3) at Orofino (2-5)
NELKE: Grangeville has locked up the Central Idaho League title, beating St. Maries at Orofino by a combined three points. St. Maries and Orofino also make the playoffs. Tonight’s winner plays at home in the first round next week, while tonight’s loser travels.
St. Maries, 26-24
ELLIOTT: With a week off to fine tune things, St. Maries gets back on track to defend its state 2A title.
St. Maries, 28-14
Kootenai (2-4) at Colton (5-2)
NELKE: This game was a late addition to the Warriors’ schedule. Colton beat Wallace 46-38 a month ago, and has scored 66 or more points four times.
ELLIOTT: Kootenai finished last Friday’s game with Deary with eight guys. Eight is enough, but they’ll have a hard time outscoring Colton.
Lakeside (4-2) at Deary (7-0)
NELKE: A Lakeside win would put the Knights in good position to make the 1A Division II playoffs. But, as results so far have shown, there’s a decided gap between Kendrick and Deary and the rest of the White Star League.
ELLIOTT: Umm ...
Idaho (2-4) at Missouri (1-5)
Saturday, 9 a.m.
NELKE: The Vandals could be at least 4-2 by now. But yeah, woulda, shoulda, coulda. The Tigers have lost five straight, but as they say, they also have “SEC athletes,” whatever that means. This could be one of those money games where Idaho accepts a big check — and wins.
ELLIOTT: If Troy can go into LSU and upset the Tigers, then the Vandals can go into Missouri and — upset the Tigers.
Colorado (4-3) at Washington State (6-1)
Saturday, 7:45 p.m.
NELKE: In a stretch of less than 48 hours last weekend, the Cougs lost a football game, a chance at an unfeated season, and their athletic director. Now the faithful are worried their coach may follow their AD to Nebraska, though whether Mike Leach’s schtick would work in Lincoln is a discussion for another day. WSU ran into a boulder in Boulder last year, and returns the favor this year.
ELLIOTT: Hopefully the Cougars bounce back from that showing last Friday.
Wyoming (4-2) at Boise State (4-2)
Saturday, 7:15 p.m.
NELKE: Boise State got back to being the bullies of the Mountain West last week with a convincing win at San Diego State.
Boise State, 38-14
ELLIOTT: Good teams find a way to win at home when they need to. Boise State needs this one.
Boise State, 35-24
Eastern Washington (5-2) at Southern Utah (4-2)
Saturday, 4 p.m.
NELKE: This might be a tougher foe for the Eagles than some anticipated. But EWU, winners of five straight, has hit its stride.
ELLIOTT: Eastern Washington seems to be gearing up for a deep playoff run.