Sep. 23—We've been through four weeks of the season, and the playoff picture is already coming into focus a bit in District 4.
Part of that reason is of course there are too many teams. With eight-team brackets in Class 2A and Class 3A, there are six teams between the two classes that would qualify with zero or one win.
I've pretty much covered, ad-nauseam in this space, my feeling on these expanded playoffs. Culling the playoff fields a bit in District 4 could allow for the second scrimmage to take place.
I realize the four-team fields in the district (Class A and Class 4A) would probably need convincing to go to a two-team field.
I don't think we'd be able to convince the Class A people this cycle. Even with four teams, I think it's pretty obvious A is the deepest class in District 4. The top three seeds right now (Canton, Muncy and Northwest) are all undefeated, and No. 4-seed South Williamsport's lone loss came to Class 4A Milton.
Canton is the defending champion, the current No. 1-team in the state and took state champion Bishop Guilfoyle to overtime in the semifinal. But I wonder if the graduation losses are a bit too much. I really think Muncy's been underrated so far this season, and the Indians have a legitimate shot to make the same type of run that Canton did last year.
Class 2A seems to be a three-horse race right now between Mount Carmel, Troy and Southern Columbia. Even though the Tigers are the No. 4 seed, and still have games tonight with Danville and on Oct. 14 with the Red Tornadoes, I still think it reasonable to believe Mount Carmel and Southern Columbia have two meetings this season. The Trojans are probably favored in every game until their final two of the season — with Loyalsock and Canton.
That means the Tigers and the Red Tornadoes could meet in the semifinal instead of the final.
Line Mountain could also grab a home game as well in Class 2A. Despite a 1-3 start, the Eagles have a chance to rip off a five-game winning streak until their final two games of the season when Line Mountain plays the top two teams in its division — Juniata and Upper Dauphin — to end the year.
Danville has to be considered the favorite in Class 3A. The two-time defending champions' trip to a third-straight title won't be easy. It's hard not to see another battle with Loyalsock in the postseason. Mifflinburg can't be counted out as well. The Wildcats certainly have the talent, and a strong showing tonight at Jersey Shore would announce Mifflinburg as one of the favorites.
The lack of depth in the playoffs is readily apparent in Class 3A. The top five seeds are all 3-1 or 4-0, but the bottom five teams fighting for three spots are a combined 2-15.
Class 4A right now is a battle between the No. 2-seed Selinsgrove and No. 3-seed Milton to see who gets the home semifinal. Selinsgrove has two Class 5A opponents left — Central Mountain and Hollidaysburg — which will help in a big way in the power rankings. The rest of Milton's schedule is Class 3A and Class 2A teams, so the Black Panthers will have to hope for a couple of Seals stumbles to grab that home game in the semifinals.
Until somebody comes close to Jersey Shore, the Bulldogs are the prohibitive favorite to claim the title.
Todd Hummel covers high school football for The Daily Item.