This postseason will be different at the Class 6A level, with just 16 teams competing for the OSAA state championship.
Another 16 teams will make up a separate postseason bracket competing for the Columbia Cup.
As of this week, sitting at No. 9 in the state, South Salem would be in the championship bracket.
West Salem at No. 36, and McNary at No. 37, would be left out of the postseason altogether as of this week.
So this new postseason format likely will impact two Mid-Valley teams: Sprague (No. 22) and North Salem (No. 28).
How do the Olympians’ and Vikings’ players feel about the Columbia Cup bracket?
The responses were mixed.
Mixed feelings among players
TC Manumaleuna, North Salem’s junior quarterback, likes it.
“Other people don’t like it but I do. The top teams are usually the same guys and a lot of us have to play catch up,” Manumaleuna said. “Nothing wrong with that. I think the Columbia Cup helps teams like us continue to get better. North will be in the top bracket soon. I only wanted to turn my school around when I got here and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Manumaleuna’s teammate, senior running back Josiah Davis, has a different take.
“Personally, I didn’t like it from the start. When they changed it, I felt like it’s a ‘loser’s bracket’ type of thing,” Davis said. “As a team, we’ve talked, and regardless of which bracket we make it in, we want to win and we want to do our best and just play football, which is what we love doing.”
North Salem is 5-3 this season and hosts the Saxons at 7 p.m. Friday in the regular-season finale.
Sprague is 4-4 this season, and they host McNary at 7 p.m. Friday.
Drew Rodriguez, a senior for the Olympians, leans more toward Manumaleuna’s opinion.
“Every team’s goal is to be in the state championship, but with the addition of the Columbia Cup bracket, it gives us a chance to play more games post season,” Rodriguez said. “I know the seniors on my team are grateful to have a chance to play even more games to finish out high school football. I do not have a lot of negative things to say about the two different brackets.”
Rodriguez’s teammate, junior quarterback Athan Palmateer, agrees the important thing is to improve as a team with whatever opportunity they have in the postseason.
“Personally, and as a team, we’re going to go out there and compete regardless of which bracket we’re in. I want a chance to go out and play against the best of the best, but if we don’t make it into that top bracket, we’re still going to make the most of the opportunity that we’re given,” Palmateer said. “It doesn’t make a huge difference to me whether we’re playing for a state championship or the Columbia Cup, our goal is to go 1-0 and improve every week.”