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Should be wild, wacky race in GNL

As many as four teams should challenge for championship in Great Northern League

If you’ve followed Great Northern League football in recent years, you know that if anything can happen it usually does.

It’s arguably been the most competitive league in the region, and that won’t change this fall. And there’s another ingredient that will heighten the intensity, if that is possible – there won’t be any play-in opportunities. The league receives two automatic berths into the state playoffs.

At least four teams should challenge for the league championship. And if just two qualify for the playoffs, well, do the math. At least two teams will be on the outside looking in.

“Every game on the schedule for a lot of teams is winnable,” East Valley coach Adam Fisher said. “And you could lose if you don’t protect the football. It’s a credit to the league. No team is far superior than everybody else.”

Coaches couldn’t settle on a clear-cut favorite. Co-defending champs Deer Park and West Valley along with Fisher’s Knights and Cheney are considered capable of capturing the league title or at least the second playoff berth.

And don’t count out the possibility of a logjam at the top come season’s end – one that could require a Kansas City Tiebreaker to untangle.

“We all had a lot of good kids graduate and we all have a lot of good kids back as well,” West Valley coach Craig Whitney said.

This much is true – whichever teams emerge by season’s end will be battle tested. And they’ll be quality. Three years ago WV played for the state title and two years ago EV advanced to the semifinals.

“The league, like it has been the last couple of years, is unbelievably balanced,” DP coach Keith Stamps said. “Every night you’ll have to play well to win. When you play well you’re good enough to win, but when you don’t in this league you’re in trouble. Whoever ends up third in this league will be a pretty good team. You can’t afford a hiccup. If you get through our league you’re a pretty darn good football team.”

No coach believes the league champ will go undefeated.

“I’d be surprised,” Stamps said. “I’m not sure anybody is that much better than anybody else.”