The Juneau-Douglas High School football team could be concerned about its slide to fifth in this week's Anchorage Daily News/Alaska State Coaches Football Polls.
The Crimson Bears have something more important on their minds - like trying to secure a spot in the state playoffs.
As the football season winds down to its final weekend, Juneau has one simple task. Win and the Crimson Bears are in the playoffs. Lose and they'll need a lot of help to not spend the winter wondering what happened.
The No. 5 Crimson Bears have to play the top-ranked Chugiak Mustangs at 3 p.m. Saturday at Chugiak High School.
Chugiak, the season's fourth No. 1 team, was the first unanimous No. 1 pick in this year of parity and just the second top team to hold onto the ranking for a second week. Each of the state's large-school football teams has at least two losses, and there haven't been any undefeated teams since the fifth week of the season.
The Mustangs (4-2 overall, 4-1 Cook Inlet Football Conference) became the only CIFC team to clinch a berth in the playoffs when they beat the defending state champion and unranked Bartlett Golden Bears 5-0 on Saturday in a game that tied for the second-lowest score in CIFC history.
Juneau is in a group of four teams tied with 3-2 CIFC records that are fighting for the conference's last three state playoff berths. The Crimson Bears (5-2 overall) are tied with co-No. 3 West Anchorage (5-2 overall), co-No. 3 East Anchorage (4-2 overall) and unranked Dimond (4-3 overall).
Dimond, West and unranked Service all have held the No. 1 spot in the poll this year.
Palmer (5-2 overall, 4-0 Northern Railbelt Conference) jumped into the No. 2 spot this week after being ranked fifth the last two weeks. The Moose, who lost 17-0 to Juneau earlier this season, clinched the Railbelt title with an 18-15 victory over North Pole on Friday.
Juneau, which had a chance to clinch a state playoff berth last Saturday but lost 21-7 to West, isn't the only team trying to play its way into the playoffs this week.
In other CIFC matchups this weekend, West hosts Bartlett on Friday night and East plays at Dimond on Saturday. Service, which has been eliminated from playoff contention, travels to Oregon for a nonconference game.
The Crimson Bears still have a flicker of hope they might be able to host a first-round state playoff game the weekend of Oct. 3-4, but they'll need some help. If Juneau beats Chugiak, Bartlett beats West and East beats Dimond, then Juneau, Chugiak and East will all finish with 4-2 CIFC records and the Crimson Bears would hold head-to-head tie-breakers over the Mustangs and Thunderbirds. The top two CIFC teams get to host first-round playoff games.
On the other hand, if Juneau loses on Saturday, West beats Bartlett and East beats Dimond, then the Crimson Bears could be sitting at home for the playoffs. Chugiak would be 5-1 in CIFC games, with West and East at 4-2, while Juneau and Dimond are 3-3. Since Dimond beat Juneau 28-27 earlier this year, the Lynx hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Crimson Bears.
In the small schools poll, Kenai retained its top ranking, but Soldotna took the No. 2 spot over Eielson. Nikiski and Kodiak round out the top five.
The polls can be found on the Scoreboard on Page B2.