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Sacred Heart playing for playoff berth in regular-season finale

Minnesota's section football playoffs begin next week. For East Grand Forks Sacred Heart, the postseason begins today. The Eagles host Climax-Fisher at 7:30 p.m. at Cushman Field in Grand Forks. In Section 8 nine-man, both Sacred Heart and Norman...

Sacred Heart Eagles logo

Minnesota's section football playoffs begin next week. For East Grand Forks Sacred Heart, the postseason begins today.

The Eagles host Climax-Fisher at 7:30 p.m. at Cushman Field in Grand Forks. In Section 8 nine-man, both Sacred Heart and Norman County West are sitting with 0-7 records. With nine teams in the section, one team won't make the eight-team playoff field.

"For us, this is the playoffs,'' Sacred Heart coach Drew Mortenson said. "We win and we should be in. If we do make it, we want to do it with a win.''

The flip side is that a loss will make it very hard for the Eagles to reach the playoffs.

Sacred Heart did make the playoffs last season without a win. Pairings are determined by QRF rankings.

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The QRF formula gives teams points for every game, win or lose. There are more points for wins. The formula also takes into account the classification of opponents and how many wins an opponent has. For instance, a team gets more QRF points playing an opponent that has seven wins than it would against a team that has six or fewer wins.

Should Sacred Heart win, it still won't know its playoff future until after Wednesday night, when Norman County West plays undefeated Win-E-Mac in those teams' regular-season finale. Sacred Heart is hurt by a couple of factors, Mortenson said.

"West's crossover game was against Kittson County Central, which has seven wins,'' Mortenson said. "That helps (NCW's) QRF numbers. And they play (undefeated) Win-E-Mac, so even if Norman County West loses, it helps their numbers.''

Climax-Fisher, at 1-6, guarantees itself a playoff berth with a win. But a loss would put the Knights in Sacred Heart's situation, in a wait-and-see pending the outcome of the Win-E-Mac/NCW game.

The Knights' strength is the one-two running combination of Justin Cameron and Jonah Sylvester, the latter of whom has more than 1,000 rushing yards this season.

"We're similar,'' Mortenson said. "They like to run the ball. We like to run the ball. Our numbers are similar. But they have those two excellent backs. We have to stop them.''

In other Greater Grand Forks football games this week, with playoff scenarios:

With two games remaining in the regular season, both of these teams have been eliminated from playoff contention.

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"It's a disappointment, because making the playoffs was a goal,'' Central coach Bill Lorenz said. "Now we play for pride. This is a team we feel we can compete with. And they're probably feeling the same.''

Central was eliminated from playoff consideration with a 31-8 loss to Grand Forks Red River on Friday. The Roughriders beat Mandan 48-14 on the road earlier this season.

"Mandan spreads its offense out, going four wideouts,'' Lorenz said. "Their quarterback (Trevor Leingang) is a good athlete. And (Ross) Effertz is a playmaker for them.''

West Fargo (4-2) at Red

River (4-3), 4 p.m. Saturday

Red River clinched a playoff berth with its 31-8 win against Grand Forks Central. Now, the Roughriders are playing for a higher seed.

Red River currently is fourth in East Region standings. The Roughriders close with West Fargo and, next week, at Fargo South -- two teams that are ahead of Red River in the region.

"Our goal is to host a playoff game and, to have a chance, we need to win our next two games,'' Red River coach Vyrn Muir said. "When you host a playoff game, you don't have to get up early and be on a long bus ride.''

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Red River could be without standout tight end/linebacker Jake Robson (hand injury). The Riders' primary goal will be stopping Packers back Andrew Johnson, Muir said. "He's a typical West Fargo running back, a strong kid with some speed, and they have solid kids on the offensive line.''

EGF Senior High (0-7) at

Crookston (1-6), 7 p.m. Wednesday

With only six teams in Section 8AAA, Senior High is guaranteed a berth in the playoffs, which begin next week.

Green Wave coach Scott Oliver said, regardless of the outcome of the regular season-ending game against Section 8AA foe Crookston, his team probably is locked into the No. 6 seed. Every other team in 8AAA has at least two wins.

"Crookston is like us. They're hungry for a win," Oliver said. "We've gotten better every week. But we need a win going into the playoffs."

Last Friday, in wet, muddy conditions, Senior High dropped a 6-0 overtime decision to Park Rapids, one of the top teams in 8AAA. "Given the conditions, we played them well," Oliver said.

DeVillers reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1128, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1128 or send email to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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