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Indians control their playoff fate

By Grant Guggisberg

The playoff picture in District 5 is a mess.

You’d think after two district games, there would be more clarity, but you’d be wrong.

Nothing is set in stone. There’s still a chance for Manhattan to lose and not go to the playoffs, and there’s still a slim chance that Washburn Rural, winless through two district games, could come in as runner up.

“There’s still a scenario out there,” Manhattan coach Joe Schartz said of his team not making the playoffs. “And it’s on the extreme ends of both sides.”

To clinch as district champs, all Manhattan has to do is win its final game or lose by 12 or less.

But what if the Indians lay an egg at Junction City?

To clinch a playoff berth, Washburn Rural could play competitively with Topeka High, winning or losing by 12 or less, thus taking them out of the three-way tie and making Manhattan runner-up behind Junction City, even if the Indians lose by six touchdowns Friday.

But if Topeka High beats Rural by the full 13-point margin, as expected, things get out of hand. Should Junction win by 13 and Topeka High beat Rural by 13, three teams would be tied with a 2-1 district record, and they’d all be plus-13 in the margin of victory points, which is the primary tiebreaker.

At that point, the schools go through a long list of tiebreakers that don’t apply before looking at each team’s Class 6A victories.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Centennial League is made up of 5A schools, and nobody ventured out to play a 6A team out of conference, so that tiebreaker doesn’t help either. Each of the tied teams would be 2-1 in 6A games.

That just leaves the three teams that are tied to draw out of a hat.

This drawing would only determine the district champion. Once a district champion is decided, the remaining two teams use their head-to-head matchup to decide the runner up. Should Topeka High be picked from the hat, then Junction City would be runner up with a head-to-head win over the Indians. Should Junction City get drawn, Manhattan would go over Topeka High.

That gives Manhattan a 33 percent chance to be crowned champs, and a 33 percent chance to be left out of the playoffs altogether.

“If that scenario plays out, we’ll have to go to Topeka and draw out of a hat,” Schartz said. “But we control our own destiny. If we win, obviously we’re the champs. And if we lose by 12 or less, we’re the champs.”

Should Manhattan win by 13 or more points over Junction City, the same three-way tie potentially exists to get Rural into the playoffs. In that case, they’d be drawing out of a hat for the runner-up spot, with each team at 1-2 and minus-13 in the points.

For Manhattan, the moral of the story, of course, is to just go out and win. Winning takes care of everything.

As usual, they have plenty of incentive. A win over Junction City gives them the district championship, which means they’ll host their first playoff game. It’s also for the Centennial League championship, as well as the Silver Trophy.

“This is the best footing that we’ve had, out of all four years that I’ve been head coach,” Schartz said. “We’ve never had our full 26 points, but we’re still not in. So, we’ve done everything that we can up to this point, and now we have to go take care of business and win another game to secure our spot and to host a first-round playoff game at Bishop Stadium, and to keep the Silver Trophy.”

For those who can’t attend the game, go to for live streaming video.

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