How much is riding on the outcome of Friday’s final regular season home football game at Medical Lake with Freeman?
For one it’s the difference between burning a lot of diesel fuel the following Friday.
But the best reason is the winner of the 7 p.m. Holliday Field game holds onto home field for a playoff game against an as yet unknown Caribou Trail League team. The CTL, like the Northeast A League, closes out the regular season Friday. Cascade of Leavenworth (5-1, 5-2) and Quincy (5-1, 5-3) are the probable other teams in the postseason.
There is a reward for the loser, but it’s not a very attractive one. They will hit the road and likely meet undefeated Cashmere (6-0 CTL, 8-0) Nov. 2 in the first round of crossover games.
Chewelah earned the No. 1 spot in the NEA by virtue of their earlier wins over both Medical Lake, 33-28, and Freeman 20-0.
“This is huge, the opportunity to stay at home,” Cardinals’ head coach Wes Hobbs said. “If we win we’re in Medical Lake next week, it we lose we hit the road.”
Medical Lake (4-1 NEA, 6-1) had last week off with a convenient and welcome bye. “Having the week off gave us an ability to heal and rest up,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said there were a few minor injuries, but bigger, perhaps, “Quite frankly we had to get our legs back.” It also gave Medical Lake additional time to work on their game plan for Freeman (4-1, 6-2).
“We’re looking at the real deal,” Hobbs said of Freeman.
The Scotties have good size and speed. “And they’ve been there before,” he added.
Freeman offers multiple offensive looks, “a little of everything,” Hobbs said. “They are really a balanced team.” On the ground they run out of an offset-I.
Defensively they have a good front-four, Hobbs said.
“We have to just do what we do and not be intimidated by what they do well,” Hobbs said.
Freeman traveled to Chewelah and absorbed a 20-0 loss while Medical Lake’s rally at home fell short in a 33-28 loss. So the Cards and Scotties slug it out for the No. 2 seed and home field in round-one of the State A playoffs.
“We just have to worry about us and that’s what it’s all about,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs sees the Cardinals’ key to beating Freeman as staying with them early and “trading a few punches.”
After a decade of relative football futility, Medical Lake has earned a playoff berth regardless of Friday’s outcome for the first time since 2003. After a 7-0 finish in the Great Northern League that year, and a 10-0 record in all games, the Cardinals fell to East Valley of Yakima 17-12 in an opening round game.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.