The field for eventual state tournament berths for fall 2004 is starting to narrow for area football and volleyball teams.
As of Tuesday morning, just three area football teams were still mathematically in the running for the playoffs, while four area volleyball teams remain.
In football, the three area teams remaining include Storm Lake, Alta and Galva-Holstein.
The Tornado gridders had their playoff hopes take a near fatal hit in Orange City Friday night with a 48-14 loss to MOC/Floyd Valley.
With the loss, Storm Lake dropped to 4-2 in district play. LeMars and Algona stand atop the Class 3A, District 1 standings with 5-1 marks. Two other teams, MOC/Floyd Valley and Humboldt, are also 4-2.
SLHS coach Bill McCabe said even if his Tornadoes beat Estherville-LC at home Friday in their regular season finale, the chances of his team gaining a playoff berth are extremely slim.
In key district games Friday, Algona takes on LeMars and MOC/Floyd Valley hosts Humboldt.
"It doesn't look good for us right now," McCabe said Sunday night. "I haven't figured out the mathematics of the thirteen-point rule yet, but even if we win Friday night, it's going to take a lot of luck and help."
He added that it's assured that after this Friday night, the LeMars-Algona winner will gain a playoff berth by virtue of having just one loss. That loser will have two losses and two other teams, Storm Lake and the MOC/Floyd Valley-Humboldt winner, will all have two losses.
After head to head competition, the next criteria is the average point differential by which teams win district games. The Tornadoes are last among the five contenders in that category.
LeMars is beating opponents by an average of 8.5 points per game while following are Algona (6.5), MOC (7.83), Humboldt (3.67) and Storm Lake (0).
"It can get pretty complicated, but our chances aren't too good at this point," McCabe added. "We've just got to win Friday night, take care of business and hope for some breaks."
The situation is more clear cut for Alta and Galva-Holstein football teams.
The Cyclones play at Marcus Friday night vs. Marcus-Meridian-Cleghorn. Both teams enter the game with 5-1 district marks. Akron-Westfield is 4-2 in district play but has beaten both Alta and MMC.
According to Alta coach Kevin Hammer, his team needs to beat MMC Friday night to make the state playoffs. A loss and the Cyclones would be out of the running.
"It's pretty simple," Hammer said Sunday night. "If we win Friday night, we're in and if we lose, we're out."
The MMC/Alta loser would have two losses and be tied with Akron-Westfield, which plays 0-6 West Sioux Friday night and should win. Since A-K holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, A-K would get the nod over the MMC/Alta loser.
"It's going to be a good high school football game Friday night at Marcus," Hammer said. "We are kind of mirror images of each other and we like to do the same things. And a lot is on the line for both teams."
Top-ranked Galva-Holstein clinched a district playoff spot a week a half ago and will open quarterfinal state playoff action Monday, Nov. 8 in Holstein.
Among area volleyball teams, four squads survived into district final games, including Alta, Schaller-Crestland, Laurens-Marathon and Galva-Holstein.
Alta opened playoff action last Thursday with a 3-1 win over South O'Brien. Up next for the Lady Cyclones, 14-5, is Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn. Those two will square off in a Class 2A, Region 1 district final in Paullina Tuesday night starting at 7 p.m.
HMS beat Sioux Central in an opening round district game in Sioux Rapids last Thursday night.
"HMS had two outstanding hitters," said Alta coach Jeannie Henningsen. "The key for us will be strong passing. Against South O'Brien, we didn't get our offense going until the second or third game. Tuesday night, we need to be good offensively right away. The girls are fired up and we think we're ready to give a strong showing."
Schaller-Crestland is hoping to make a second straight appearance in the Class 1A, Region 2 finals. Last season, the Lady Wildcats lost to Galva Holstein in the region final.
The teams could meet again, if both continue winning. Schaller-Crestland opened up tourney action last Wednesday night with a 3-1 win over Odebolt-Arthur. They'll meet Ar-We-Va Tuesday night in Schaller in a district final. Ar-We-Va was in the state tournament last season, according S-C coach Marilyn Murra.
"We don't know all that much about them other than that they have a couple tough, 5-foot-10 middle hitters," Murra said.
The Wildcats are 24-3 thus far this season despite losing last year's top guns Jenna Malcom and Monica Bloyer.
Others have stepped in without a hitch. Senior Katie Hansen leads the Wildcats in kills with 238 on the season, while junior Ayla Ringgenberg has 148 kills and Kelli Carstensen 135.
"We've been serving well the last few weeks and that has been key," added Murra, whose team served over 93 percent against Odebolt-Arthur.
"We hope to do the same against Ar-We-Va, but the real key will be just to play our game," she added. "That means we want to be on the offensive and hit the ball hard. We don't want to let anything hit the floor. It all comes down to fundamental volleyball."
Laurens-Marathon improved to 21-8 on the season by opening its 1A district/regional tournament with a 3-0 sweep of Aurelia in Laurens last Wednesday.
Up next for the Chargers Tuesday night in Laurens is Granville-Spalding Catholic, which opened with a win over George Little Rock last week.
Charger coach Kerry Feekes said he doesn't know much about Spalding Catholic but added that it lost to Clay Central-Everly earlier in the season, a team the Chargers beat at their own tournament in September.
Laurens-Marathon has been led offensively and defensively by seniors Kristi Brechler and Jacqulyn Schmidt. Brechler leads the team with 250 kills while Schmidt has 160 kills and is one of the best all-around players, and athletes, in Northwest Iowa.
"Our keys against Spalding will be to pass well and if we do that, our offense should follow," he said. "We need to pass the ball well and if we block at the net as we have been in the last couple weeks, that will help."
Galva-Holstein is also still in the playoff running after opening with 3-0 wins over River Valley and Whiting.
Tuesday night, they play at LeMars against LeMars Gehlen Catholic. Gehlen Catholic won its opener in three games last Wednesday with a 3-0 win over Woodbury Central.