The next few weeks are crucial weekends for DII clubs hoping to win a national championship.
Two teams have already booked their place in the National Round of 16. Many more know by now that they have been eliminated. But 52 teams are still in the hunt for those remaining 14 playoff spots. Here's where they stand:
In the Pacific Northwest, Snake River clinched first place in the PNW South with their 86-5 dispatching of Tacoma. Portland tied Chuckanut, which may have been enough for Chuckanut to clinch 2nd in the North, while Valley beat the Axemen.
Valley has already clinched 1st in the North, and ORSU is 2nd in the South.
On April 20 it should be Valley v ORSU and Snaker River v Chuckanut (probably), with the winners and losers playing April 21. All that sets the top two up for the Pacific Coast p[layoffs May 4-5.
They will play the teams from Northern California. Santa Rosa continued their torrid pace, beating Chico 82-5. Aaron Anthony, Kobus Grobbelaar and AJ Gutierrez are leading the scoring barrage from Santa Rosa.
Diablo Gaels won the battle of 2nd v. 3rd 48-3 over BA Baracus. The result secures DIablo in 2nd place, and puts Baracus suddenly in jeopardy of dropping to 5th. Berkeley, which had been on top of DII in NorCal for a time, but had slipped to 4-3, edged San Jose 17-15 to jump past the Seahawks and tie Baracus on points.
So Santa Rosa and Diablo will be the ones carrying to NorCal banner in the Pacific Coast playoffs.
All of that will culminate in two teams qualifying for the national Round of 16.
In Southern California, three teams make the playoffs, but one isn't really from Southern California.
Las Vegas regained 1st place in the SCRFU DII league after the Irish beat Kern County 32-22, and Pasadena went down 20-15 to Ventura County. With one game left in the season, Vegas should hold onto 1st as they face 2-7 Santa Barbara.
But neither Pasadena nor Las Vegas has clinched a playoff bye yet. They will need to win this weekend to be absolutely sure.
Five other teams are in the hunt for the remaining four playoff spots. San Fernando Valley can get a first-round bye if they beat North County and either Las Vegas or Pasadena lose (some points different at play here also). South Bay can do the same if they beat Kern County and Pasadena lose and SFV don't do so well, either.
Ventura County, with their victory over Pasadena, put themselves in excellent position to claim a playoff spot, and they play 2-6-1 Huntington Beach. Kern County is the 6th team right now, and mainly needs to stay ahead of North County.
Most likely scenario? Las Vegas and Padadena both win and take 1st and 2nd, giving them a bye to the semifinals. Ventura County wins, assuring a inplayoff spot. Kern County v. South Bay and San Fernando Valley v. the North County Gurkhas will then be the key matchups. One of those teams will not be in the playoffs.
The other SoCal seed will be decided among the teams from Arizona and New Mexico.
Albuquerque once again dominated play in New Mexico, but actually were passed by El Paso for tops in the region due to, essentially, one bad weekend. The difference is minimal, since in Arizona the top two teams were virtually equal. The Aardvarks get to play Tempe in the semis, while El Paso takes on Red Mountain.
Red Mountain and Tempe split their two games this year. Tempe did enough to win the league, beating Scottsdale 66-10 this past weekend to stay just ahead of Red Mountain in the standings.
This is quite possibly the toughest bunch of DII playoff matches anywhere.
In the West, Frisco has clinched 1st from Texas, and they go straight to the National Round of 16. The rest of the West teams will play off for two more spots.
Glendale could overtake the Denver Harlequins if they win both of their remaining games, and the Harlequins lose their finale. Park City Haggis is mathematically still in it, but need to win three straight and get the top two teams to lose. Only the top team from that Eastern Rockies league will make the West playoffs, as they meet the top three from West-Central, which will be the St. Louis Bombers, Tulsa, and Omaha.
Omaha has one more game left and could conceivably surpass Tulsa. Either way, they play each other in the West semis, while St. Louis will face the Denver Harlequins or Glendale April 27.
The Midwest is in the middle of their playoffs. Wisconsin and the Cleveland Rovers won big in their quarterfinals, and Michiana won a close one over Eastside Banshees. This weekend the fourth quarterfinal will be played as Bremer County plays Pittsburgh. Once that game is done,
Cleveland will face Michiana April 27 and Wisconsin will play the winner of Bremer County and Pittsburgh on that day, also. On the Sunday, the final and the 3rd/4th game will be played. The top two from the Midwest make the National Playoffs.
In the South, this weekend the crossover playoffs begin.
Charleston is scheduled to visit Florida champs Naples. Boca Raton is at Atlanta Old White. Knoxville will visit the powerful Little Rock squad, and Memphis goes to Chattanooga.
The winners play off two weeks later in Naples, Fla. The top two from the South make Nationals.
In the Mid-Atlantic, two teams will make it to the Round of 16, and eight are still in the hunt. On April 20 the quarterfinals will be held, with North Conference winners Wilmington (6-0) hosting Severn River (4-4), and Roses (4-2) hosting Richmond (5-3). South winners and defending national champs Rocky Gorge (7-1) will host Brandywine (3-3) and 4-2 Doylestown will visit 4-4 Washington Irish.
The top four will play off April 27-28 in Pittsburgh.
One team from New England and one team from the Empire Conference will round out the playoff picture. From New England Worcester are the champions, having upset previously-unbeaten Burlington 8-0 in the New England final last fall.
Empire will find their champion May 4-5. On April 20 four teams attempt to play into the semis. Buffalo B is at Princeton AC, and Montclair is at Rockaway.
The winners get to face Danbury (7-0) and Montauk (6-1) in the semis May 4.