CINCINNATI -- Let the playoff projections begin.
With four weeks left in the Ohio high school football regular season, WCPO.com presents Steve Shuck’s first playoff projections for 2017.
One key storyline for this season is the new alignment for Division I, Region 4 which allows for more Cincinnati-area teams to qualify. (Centerville and Clayton Northmont moved to Region 3).
Shuck, the longtime Greater Miami Conference Commissioner, says nothing should change the top two spots in Region 4 with St. Xavier (6-0) and Colerain (4-2).
St. X, rated No. 13 nationally by the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, has an opportunity to win its first outright Greater Catholic League South division title since 2012 when the Bombers play host to La Salle (5-1) Friday night.
Another key point is that possibly five GMC schools could make the playoffs, according to Shuck.
West Clermont (4-2), in its first year as a football program after combining Amelia and Glen Este, is at the No. 5 spot in Region 4.
The top eight teams in each respective region qualify for the playoffs. The top four host first-round games. With 40 percent of the schedule still be played, nothing is nearly set in stone.
Watch for Nos. 7-11 in Region 4 the next four weeks.
In Division II, Region 8, Winton Woods (6-0) will be a significant factor in determining the Region 4 finish. The Warriors’ two remaining home games are against Elder (3-3) and Moeller (3-3).
“In order for Winton Woods to maintain a high finish in Region 8, those games are very important to them as well,” Shuck said.
Other top games to watch in Divisions I and II this Friday night include Lakota East (5-1) at Colerain (4-2) and Moeller (3-3) at Elder (3-3) -- the WCPO Game of the Week. Other games to watch include Kings (2-4) at Milford (5-1) and West Clermont (4-2) at Anderson (6-0).
In Division III, Region 12, McNicholas (5-1) needs to win three of its final four games with a projected loss to Alter Oct. 20, according to Shuck.
There are very close numbers from Nos. 5-10. Goshen (6-0) plays at New Richmond (5-1) in Week 10 and Shuck projects a win for New Richmond.
In Division IV, Region 16, Wyoming (6-0) concludes its regular season by playing host to Indian Hill (5-1), so that game could carry plenty of significance for the postseason picture.
In Division V, Region 20, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (3-2) should cruise into the playoffs, according to Shuck.
“Most unbeaten teams finish in the top two or three but it looks like this region is an exception,” Shuck said.
Bethel-Tate (6-0) is in good shape and could make its second playoff appearance in program history (the other being in 2015).
Shuck said it could be a real battle for the last spot with Summit Country Day (5-1), Mariemont (4-2) and Reading (4-2) among those in the mix.
There are no area teams in contention for Division VI, Region 24, according to Shuck.
In Division VII, Region 28, Miami Valley Christian (4-2) is at No. 7. Gamble Montessori (4-2) needs two more wins to possibly move into the top eight.