Area football fans will want to clear their calendars this Friday. There are many games throughout the four divisions worth paying attention to, each with its own history and playoff implications.
The first one on the list is a matchup that should be circled every year - Velva at Harvey.
Harvey (3-0) and Velva (3-0) are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the latest Class A poll and combined the teams have won nine of the 11 Class A state titles. Harvey won last season for the first time since 1998, while Velva had won the previous four championships.
Harvey won 24-0 at Velva last season, but will face a more experienced and talented Aggies squad this time around. Both teams play in Region 3 and barring any upsets the rest of the way, this game will decide who takes the top seed into the playoffs. It should add another great chapter to this storied rivalry. Did I mention Harvey head coach Brady Sandy and Velva head coach Larry Sandy are brothers?
In the 9-man division, Divide County is playing at Lewis and Clark-Our
Redeemer's (Berthold) with potential playoff seedings on the line.
Divide County has won four straight region titles and handed a 58-28 loss to the Bombers a year ago in Crosby. After losing the first game of the season at Williams County, Divide County (3-1 Region 5, 3-1) can't afford another region loss. This is the Bombers' (3-0 Region 5, 4-0) first truly tough game of the season. A win for the Bombers would certainly place them on the region's top tier along with Williams County and Divide County.
The 9-man Region 5 division has another important game this week in Williams County at Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood. Williams County is the top-ranked 9-man team in the state and looks to remain undefeated on its quest for a regular season region title. On the other hand, up-start M-L-S is coming off a disheartening 50-14 loss at Divide County and wants to cement itself among the region's elite.
Another game to keep an eye on is 9-man, Region 4 North Star at Maddock. Maddock (2-0 Region 4, 3-1) is coming off a last-second win over Tri-County and will try and use the momentum gained to knock off North Star (2-0 Region 4, 3-1).
Defending Region 4 champion, St. John, puts its 3-0 record on the line at home against Tri-County (0-2 Region 4, 1-3).
In Class AA, Bishop Ryan will play at Hazen in what is usually a good rivalry game. This year the teams are on opposite ends of the standings with Hazen (1-0 West Region, 3-0) on top and the Lions (0-1 West Region, 0-3) on bottom. A win over the No. 2-ranked team in the state would turn the Lions' season around in a hurry.
And now for predictions. In addition to choosing the teams I believe will win, I'll provide a degree of certainty on a scale of 0 percent to 100 percent and a small explanation.
Harvey over Velva - 50 percent certain. Impossible to predict so I'm taking the home team.
Divide County over Lewis and Clark-Our Redeemer's - 85 percent certain. Divide County has a great tradition and is the reigning champ.
Williams County over M-L-S - 95 percent certain. M-L-S was not competitive last week against Divide County, which lost to Williams County.
Maddock over North Star - 50 percent certain. Another too-close-to-call game. Home team it is.
St. John over Tri-County - 95 percent certain. In Region 4 there's St. John and everyone else.
Hazen over Bishop Ryan - 85 percent certain. Bishop Ryan improved in last week's loss to Dickinson Trinity, but it hasn't improved enough.
(Craig Haupert is a sportswriter for The Minot Daily News. He can reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org).