High school football: Will new format for Week 10 playoffs change GSHL dominance?

The state preliminary round football playoff format for Class 4A and 3A programs has changed, but it remains to be seen if that will make for more competitive games for the GSHL champions, who have not lost a Week 10 game since 2007.

4A and 3A GSHL champions have not lost a Week 10 game since 2007; plus notes on all eight Clark County playoff teams

It’s Week 10, which means automatic wins for the Class 4A and Class 3A Greater St. Helens League champions, right?

Well maybe not anymore.

Oh sure, Camas expects to win on Friday night. Mountain View plans on a victory Saturday, as well.

The Camas Papermakers have won five in a row and are now ranked No. 8 in Class 4A football, according to the most recent poll by The Associated Press. Camas opens the postseason Friday at home against Mount Rainier. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Camas Papermakers have won five in a row and are now ranked No. 8 in Class 4A football, according to the most recent poll by The Associated Press. Camas opens the postseason Friday at home against Mount Rainier. Photo by Paul Valencia

But the Week 10 dominance by the Clark County league champions might not last forever. This is a Week 10 unlike one we have experienced before for the big schools. 

In the past, for example, the winner of the 4A Greater St. Helens League knew it would have a home game, usually against a team that finished fourth, fifth, maybe even sixth in another league. There was a similar setup for the 3A GSHL champion, too.

In the recent past, the result of those games have been a foregone conclusion. The 4A and 3A GSHL champions were going to win as long as they showed up to the stadium.

This year, the 22 4A teams playing in athletic districts 1, 2, 3, and 4 were seeded. That does not mean 22 is taking on No. 1. The committee also took into account travel. Plus there were other factors. Teams from the same league would not face each other in Week 10.

In Class 3A, all 32 teams vying to make the state playoffs (the final 16) were seeded by a committee this year. That’s new, as well. 

Because of the new Week 10 format for the big schools, we can no longer just make assumptions.

How automatic has this Week 10 been for the league champions? Since 2008, the 4A and 3A GSHL winners have gone 24-0 in Week 10 games. 

The last time a league champion lost in Week 10? That would be 2007, when both the 4A GSHL and 3A GSHL champion lost.

The average score since 2008 for the Class 4A Week 10 games is 47-17. There have been two close games, and none since 2010.

The average score since 2008 for the Class 3A Week 10 games is 47-14. There have been three close games, with the last one coming in 2015.

The committee did not release the seedings for this year’s 4A games. It just came up with the matchups and the home teams, so we know the home teams were the better seeds. (The state tournament will note the seeds of each team.) But we can guess that Camas is the No. 5 or No. 6 seed of the 22 teams in the Week 10 playoffs. The Papermakers host Mount Rainier on Friday.

The Mountain View Thunder are eyeing a Week 10 state preliminary round playoff game against Seattle Prep on Saturday at McKenzie Stadium. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Mountain View Thunder are eyeing a Week 10 state preliminary round playoff game against Seattle Prep on Saturday at McKenzie Stadium. Photo by Paul Valencia

Mountain View, the 3A GSHL champion, will host Seattle Prep on Saturday. We can guess Mountain View was put in at around No. 12 of the 32 teams. If that’s the case, and Seattle Prep is around No. 21, well, that makes for a closer game, in theory, than many of the previous Week 10 games for a league champion.

Again, doesn’t mean these games will be close. Doesn’t mean the league champions will lose. Just a completely different set-up this season. And it puts an emphasis on the entire regular season, not just league games. An 8-1 league champion is likely to get a better seed than a 5-4 league champion, for example. In the past, the non-league games meant nothing in terms of Week 10 positioning.

Meanwhile, the Class 2A and 1A teams from Clark County are playing traditional district playoffs in Week 10, with the winners advancing to state. 

In all, there are eight teams from Clark County in the Week 10 playoffs. Here are the matchups, as well as recent Week 10 history.

Class 4A

Mount Rainier (6-3) at Camas (5-4), 6 p.m. Friday at Doc Harris Stadium

Camas won the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League with a 3-0 league mark, part of its five-game winning streak to finish the regular season. Camas has not missed the postseason since 2002 when it lost a tiebreaker format. In 2003, the Papermakers went straight to state. Since 2004, the Papermakers are 12-4 in Week 10 games, the last loss coming in 2018. Camas has never lost Week 10 as a league champion.

Kamiak (7-1) vs. Skyview (7-2), 1 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins Bowl

Skyview finished second in the 4A GSHL with a 2-1 league record. The Storm have made the postseason 13 of the past 14 seasons, and they have ruled the Week 10 games even as a second- or third-place team from the 4A GSHL. The Storm are 11-2 in Week 10 games, including seven wins when they were not league champions. The team’s last loss in Week 10? That was in 2012.

Class 3A

Seattle Prep (5-4) vs. Mountain View (7-2) 5 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium

Mountain View won the 3A GSHL with a 4-0 record this season. The Thunder bounced back after missing out on the playoffs in 2019. (Remember, no playoffs during the abbreviated COVID season earlier this calendar year. But the Thunder did go 4-0 against 3A GSHL competition.) Mountain View is 9-4 in Week 10 games this century. Its last loss in Week 10 came in 2012.

Class 2A

Aberdeen (5-3) at Ridgefield (9-0), 4 p.m. Saturday

Ridgefield went 7-0 in the 2A GSHL to win its first league title since 2005 and first outright league title since 2003. Those two seasons? Ridgefield won in the Week 10 district playoff. Since the turn of the century, Ridgefield has qualified for the playoffs eight times now. In the previous seven district playoff games, the team is 3-4. Its last win? That would be 2019 against … Aberdeen. 

By the way, the 2A GSHL champion has not always been a lock in this district, with the No. 1 seed losing in the Week 10 game four times since 2006. The league champion is on a three-game winning streak, though, and don’t expect Ridgefield to mess with that streak this week.

Rochester (5-3) vs. Hockinson (6-2), 6 p.m. Saturday at District Stadium in Battle Ground

Hockinson has won six in a row after losses to top-10 programs Lynden (non-league) and 2A GSHL champion Ridgefield and finished second this season in the league. … It took Hockinson years to figure out Week 10 success. Once the Hawks did figure it out, they eventually went on to make Clark County high school football history. Hockinson lost its first six Week 10 district playoff games. Of course, Hockinson went on to win back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018 and reached the semifinals in 2019. In all, Hockinson is 5-7 in Week 10 games.

Columbia River (3-6) at Tumwater (6-2) 6 p.m. Friday

The Rapids made it to the postseason with a fourth-place finish in the 2A GSHL. The reward? Facing one of the best teams in the state. Tumwater’s only losses have come in close contests against Central Catholic from Oregon and Camas. Those two programs won the big-school championships in their states in 2019. No matter what the result is Friday, Columbia River has kept up an impressive streak. The program has reached the postseason nine years in a row. In all, Columbia River has 18 postseason appearances since 2000. In two of those years, there were no Week 10 games. In the 15 Week 10 games, Columbia River is 8-7, with its last win coming in 2015.

Class 1A

Montesano (5-3) vs La Center (6-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Woodland High School

La Center went undefeated in league play to take the Trico League title. This makes 19 of the past 20 seasons that La Center has made the postseason. There was no Week 10 playoff in 2001, 2002, and 2014. In the 15 Week 10 playoff games, La Center is 10-5. La Center has never lost the Week 10 playoff as a league champion. 

Seton Catholic (3-6) vs. Eatonville (9-0), 5:30 Thursday at Art Crate Field in Spanaway

The Seton Catholic Cougars are undefeated in Week 10 games. In fact, Seton Catholic has never lost a playoff game. OK, OK, Seton Catholic has never played a playoff game. No matter what happens Thursday, congrats to the Cougars for making it to the postseason. A huge accomplishment.

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