Through the first three weeks, the Division I-A football slate has seen several head-scratching results.
From Lowry getting pummeled last week by Fernley to Faith Lutheran starting 1-2, the race for the state championship is wide open.
Lowry is struggling as the Buckaroos are coming off a fourth-quarter rally to beating fledgling Truckee, 20-13. Although Lowry lost five all-state players from last season, no one figured the Buckaroos would be on the outside looking in for a playoff berth.
Perhaps even more perplexing, is the state of the DI. Lowry beat North Valleys to open the season, and North Valleys crushed Douglas, 42-7, last week.
Fernley, meanwhile, struggled with South Tahoe, who has dropped two close games in consecutive weeks.
Dayton has shot out of the gate to open 3-0, 2-0 in league, and may be the team who crashes the postseason party. After losing all-state running back Austin Fletcher to graduation, the Dust Devils are averaging 270 rushing yards per game.
Dayton must get past an improved Truckee squad this week to keep its march to the postseason on track. Of course, four league losses may be enough for to earn the No. 4 spot.
Wooster, though, has already taken its lumps from Elko and Fallon, so the Colts, who were much improved last season, should also challenge Dayton and Lowry for the final playoff position.
Wooster hosts Lowry on Friday and if the Colts pull off the win, it would set up a critical matchup with Dayton on Oct. 17. The Lowry-Dayton game on Oct. 3, meanwhile, is also another game with playoff implications.
Fallon and Elko, though, are the favorites for the league title, although Fernley will be a tough out, depending on which team shows up. Fernley and Elko, however, meet this week in the league’s biggest game of the season to date.
Whoever wins will likely host the other in a first-round playoff game and avoid playing on the road.
Still, the race for the league title and home-field advantage will be just as interesting. Fallon’s offense exploded against Wooster, while Elko’s physical run game is beating up opponents.
Fernley has been less consistent on offense, but its defense is proving to be up to the challenge. A unit based on speed will have its hands full with the bruising running attack from Elko.
Down south, Moapa Valley appears to be the team to beat after upending Desert Pines on Saturday. Moapa Valley lost most of both lines due to graduation, but a solid coaching staff has the Pirates ready for yet another state run.
Defending state champ Faith Lutheran, meanwhile, is on tilt. The Crusaders somehow lost to Clark and has a tough hill to climb. It would be stunning if Faith Lutheran did not make the playoffs.
The silver lining for the southern teams, though, is four clubs from each league qualify for the playoffs. All it takes is for a team to slip into the playoffs and get hot.
Regardless, one of them must travel north, which is never an easy task.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.