Philomath High’s soccer and volleyball teams will play their final regular-season games Thursday and Tuesday and then wait to see how the postseason picture shakes out.
The Warriors are sitting pretty good in girls soccer with an automatic berth into the Class 4A playoffs. Philomath defeated North Marion, 6-2, earlier this week and will likely share the co-championship with the Huskies in the final standings. The top two teams in the conference bypass the play-in round and go directly to the playoffs.
As of Thursday, both North Marion and Philomath were among the top 4 in the OSAA’s rankings. Marist Catholic is No. 1 followed by Scappoose, North Marion and the Warriors. Those could change as the teams complete their last couple of games. Philomath’s remaining schedule includes Thursday at home vs. Sweet Home and Tuesday at Stayton.
In volleyball, Philomath is also looking good with second place clinched in the conference standings. It’s the same situation here as soccer with the top two conference teams automatically advancing to the state playoffs. Cascade, which is ranked No. 4 overall, has clinched the OWC title and Philomath has a two-win lead over third-place Stayton with one match remaining.
The Warriors and Eagles meet Thursday evening but even if Stayton pulls off an upset, Philomath would still finish second. The Warriors won at Stayton earlier this season in four sets.
In boys soccer, Philomath is currently on the outside looking in. The Warriors are three spots out of qualifying for a play-in game based on the OSAA rankings heading into Thursday’s games. Baker is sitting in that position at No. 21, followed by Molalla, Marshfield and Philomath.
The Warriors have two more games to work their way up the rankings. Philomath plays Thursday at Sweet Home — an opponent that the Warriors beat 8-2 on Oct. 3 — and then finishes the regular season Tuesday at Stayton, which is trying to win the conference title.
Stayton and Philomath had a competitive game the first time around and if the Warriors could pull off an upset next week at home on Senior Night, those rankings might get pretty interesting.
Football team’s chances in 4A
Philomath High’s chances of making the football playoffs appear to be slim based on what remains to be played over the final two weeks and how Class 4A determines its qualifiers.
The Warriors are currently sitting in fourth place in Special District 3 behind Marist Catholic, Junction City and Cascade. The top three teams automatically qualify for the playoffs and Philomath appears to have no chance of getting any higher than fourth.
The Warriors’ chances look good for pulling out wins with games remaining Friday at Klamath Union and Oct. 27 at home vs. Sweet Home. Those two opponents have struggled this season with a combined 1-13 record. With a win over Sweet Home, Philomath would finish 3-3 in league play.
The third-place team, Cascade, is currently 3-1 with games remaining against Marist and Stayton. If the Cougars lose both, that would drop them into a tie with Philomath for third place. However, Cascade has the head-to-head advantage with its 49-29 win over the Warriors a couple of weeks ago.
So that pathway appears to be closed.
A fourth team out of Special District 3 could make the playoffs. To explain, each of the five districts will qualify their top three teams — that adds up to 15 teams. That leaves a spot for a 16th team to make it and the OSAA decided that a fourth team would qualify out of either Special District 3 or Special District 4. Those are the two leagues in 4A with seven schools.
The at-large team chosen out of the two districts would be based on the OSAA rankings. Currently, Philomath ranks No. 20 and Marshfield, the fourth-place team in Special District 4, is ranked No. 10. Marshfield is very likely going to win one of its last two games. There are a couple of scenarios involving Marshfield, Ashland and Hidden Valley that might give Philomath a very outside chance of moving ahead in the rankings.
This second pathway isn’t officially closed but to be honest, it’s a long shot.
The team goal at this point may be to finish with a winning record. Philomath could accomplish a major feat by winning its last two games. The Warriors haven’t had a winning record in Class 4A since 2015. (The team went 4-2 in 2020 and 6-4 in 2021 but PHS was competing in 3A those two seasons).
Cross-country in stretch run
The Warriors were scheduled to participate Thursday at the Harrisburg Gatorade Challenge, which represents its last regular-season meet prior to the Oregon West Championships. Philomath’s lineup in the event may differ from the norm with soccer games going on at the same time. There are a number of dual-sport athletes for both the boys and girls.
One of the bigger pieces of news for Philomath relates to the possible addition of Simon King to the varsity lineup. Coach Joe Fulton said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about that happening this week but is hoping for the best. King has been cross-training following surgery about seven weeks ago.
King is actually a newcomer to high school cross-country — not competing in the sport since he was an eighth grader. Now a senior, he decided to give the sport a final try before graduating. King is a proven runner, however, with a high level of success for the Warriors in track and field. Last spring, he placed fifth in the 800 and was part of the 4-by-400 relay that took third.
Several small schools are scheduled to participate in the Harrisburg meet.
In case you hadn’t heard, the OWC Championships will be held here in Philomath on Oct. 28. The varsity girls will begin at 11:15 a.m. with the boys to follow at noon. Newport is the host school this year but does not have a course and the plan was to hold the meet at Stayton. But with Philomath’s rebuilding of its course early this fall, Newport requested for the meet to be moved to Philomath.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).