Magnolia football

Javorrea Murphy of Magnolia runs for a touchdown last week against De Queen.

Friday is the final night of regular season play for the Magnolia Panthers, who remain in the thick of the Class 5A-South conference race and a playoff berth – or not.

Magnolia is currently third in the conference. Four teams from the conference will advance to the playoffs starting next week. Magnolia has a good chance to be a No. 3 seed but its fate is not entirely in the hands of the Panthers.

First, Magnolia must win on the road against Hope in a game starting at 7 p.m. A victory would give Magnolia a 5-2 conference record (7-3 overall) and would be the first time since 2008 that the Panthers have won five consecutive football games.

Hope is 1-5, 1-8 but Magnolia cannot afford to overlook the Bobcats. A Magnolia loss would give the Panthers a 4-3 conference record and may knock Mark King’s squad out of the picture, depending on what happens in the rest of Class 5A-South on Friday night.

Second, league-leading Hot Springs Lakeside (5-1, 7-2) plays at Hot Springs (4-2, 5-4). Arkansas High (4-2, 5-3) is in a four-way tie for second place with Magnolia, Hot Springs and Camden Fairview with a 4-2 conference mark. The Razorbacks appear to be a lock against De Queen (0-6, 0-9). It would take an unlikely Leopards victory for Magnolia to have a chance at the No. 2 seed and a home playoff berth.

Magnolia’s only conference losses are to Lakeside and Arkansas High.

Third, Magnolia’s cause would be helped if Little Rock McClellan (2-4, 4-5) beats visiting Camden Fairview (4-2, 5-4).

Best case scenario for a Magnolia playoff spot:

Magnolia wins and goes to 5-2. Lakeside beats Hot Springs, dropping Hot Springs to 4-3. McClellan beats Camden Fairview, dropping Camden Fairview to 4-3. De Queen upsets Arkansas, dropping Arkansas to 4-3 and moving Magnolia into a No. 2 and home playoff seed.

Worst-case scenario for a Magnolia playoff spot:

Magnolia loses to Hope and goes to 4-3. If Magnolia loses, it can still reach the playoffs as a No. 4 seed if either Hot Springs or Camden Fairview lose. However, if Magnolia loses and both Hot Springs and Camden Fairview win, the Panthers season is over.

The No. 3 seed from Class 5A-South will play at No. 2 seed from Class 5A-Central in the first playoff round. At present, the No. 2 seed is Pulaski Academy (5-1, 7-2).

The No. 4 seed from Class 5A-South will play at the No. 1 seed from Class 5A-Central. At present, the No. 1 seed is Little Rock Christian (7-0, 10-0). Maumelle and White Hall are also in the playoff mix for Magnolia, depending upon the outcome of tonight’s games.

Class 5A-South standings

Team                                Conference     Overall

Hot Springs Lakeside          5-1                7-2

Arkansas High                    4-2                5-3

Magnolia                            4-2                6-3

Hot Springs                       4-2                 5-4

Camden Fairview               4-2                 5-4

Little Rock McClellan          2-4                 4-5

Hope                                1-5                  1-8

De Queen                          0-6                0-9

Tonight's games (all kickoffs at 7 p.m.)

Arkansas High at De Queen

Camden Fairview at McClellan

Hot Springs Lakeside at Hot Springs

Magnolia at Hope

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