Wednesday, October 10, 2007

League title on line when Carey visits Mackay

Sawtooth Conference showdown Friday night

Idaho eight-man football powers Carey and Mackay played each other twice last fall during Carey's 11-1 State 1A Division 2 championship season that ended with a 50-20 win over Salmon River of Riggins last Nov. 17 in Pocatello.

That same Carey-Mackay scenario of two meetings in a single season could conceivably play out again in 2007—but first the two rivals must play each other for the first time. That pivotal Sawtooth Conference showdown is Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in Mackay,

Carey has played only once in Mackay, falling 50-14 two years ago. Panther coach Lane Kirkland remembers that long night well. It was the midpoint of Mackay's drive to an 11-0 State 1A Division 1 title and 51.6 ppg scoring campaign.

The highly regarded 2007 Panthers (5-1, 4-0 league) and coach Kirkland are planning for a different outcome this time. Carey is currently rolling along on a four-game winning streak, but the Panthers know winning in Mackay won't be easy. Mackay is rolling, too.

Mackay (4-2, 4-0 league) has won four straight games since its season-opening losses to Raft River (3-3) by a 44-22 score and at Hansen (2-4) by a 6-0 count. Those four wins, however, came over Murtaugh, North Gem, Richfield and Camas County, teams with a combined 4-20 record this fall.

Kirkland nevertheless expects a tough test against a Mackay team that fell to Carey twice last season, 34-28 in Carey and 36-28 in the state semi-finals in Pocatello. This year, Carey and Mackay could meet in the state semi-finals again.

If Carey wins at Mackay Friday the Panthers will be trying to get Kirkland his 50th coaching victory when Murtaugh visits for the final regular-season Carey home game Oct. 19, against Murtaugh (0-6).

Here are league standings of the Sawtooth Conference entering the final three weeks: Carey and Mackay 4-0, Dietrich 3-1, North Gem and Rockland 2-2, Richfield 1-3, Camas County and Murtaugh 0-4.

Only the top four Sawtooth teams make the eight-team State 1A Division 2 playoffs. Key games are: Carey at Mackay and Dietrich at Rockland Oct. 12; Mackay at Dietrich Oct. 19; Carey at North Gem and Mackay at Rockland Oct. 26.

If Carey the table and wins the Sawtooth for a second straight year, and if Mackay wins two of its final three games, Carey will be #1 and Mackay #2 while Dietrich, Rockland and North Gem will duke it out for the #3 and #4 spots—the fourth seed traveling to Carey for the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 2.

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