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