Prairie View (6-3) at Claiborne (3-5), Friday, 7 p.m.
Officially, it's Week 10 of the MAIS regular season. For the Prairie View Spartans, the playoffs start this week.
Needing a win to clinch a wildcard playoff bid, the Spartans travel to Haynesville for a 7 p.m. Friday matchup against Claiborne Academy in the regular season finale.
"If we win, we're in," Prairie View coach Bo Barton said. "We're treating it like a playoff game."
Prairie View (6-3, 1-1) closed out District 5-2A play with a 28-18 loss to River Oaks last week. River Oaks can clinch the conference championship with a victory over Glenbrook. Meanwhile, the Spartans remain in control of their postseason fate.
"We have put ourselves in good position," Barton said. "It's been our goal all year to make the playoffs, to make it to the playoffs healthy and to be playing our best football in Week 11."
Barton's point of emphasis this week has been eliminating unforced errors.
"We made some mistakes last week that can be fixed," Barton said. "When you are up three touchdowns, the little mistakes don't hurt you. When you are playing teams that are as good or better than you, mistakes will get you beat."
Barton didn't need the game film to spot the Spartans' flaws from last week.
"We had them third-and-eight-plus six times, and we let them off four times by jumping off sides," Barton said. "We jumped off five times Friday night. Jumping off sides on third-and-eight gives them third-and-three. We had a false start and snapped the ball through the quarterback's legs on 2-point plays. We picked up a punt at the 1-yardline that we should have let roll into the end zone."
What bothers Barton the most is the defensive encroachment penalties.
"River Oaks ran the ball straight ahead," Barton said. "Four times, they changed the snap count, and we jumped three times. We only had six or seven possessions. When you have the chance, you have to get them off the field."
Barton says most of the Spartans' mistakes are from a lack of concentration.
"Good football teams can create enough havoc on their own," Barton said. "We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot. A lot of it is youth, a lot of it is bad coaching, and a lot of it is a lack of focus on the kids part. I've been harping all week on staying focused and cutting out the simple, silly mistakes. That's what is going to get us if we don't get it fixed."
Barton has no complaints about the Spartans' effort.
"Our effort was outstanding last week," Barton said. "I'm proud of the fight, the grit the determination. We were down 22-6 at halftime, and got it down to 22-18. We were right there with a chance in the fourth quarter."
Now, it's time to reduce the mental mistakes.
"We're good enough that if we cut out the minor, silly mistakes, we can make a good run," Barton said. "I really believe that."
Prairie View is led offensively by senior tackles Caleb Tanksley and Austin Harper.
Linebackers Jacob Farrar and Austin Carroll amassed 18 and 15 tackles, respectively, against River Oaks, while defensive tackle Gage Riles made three stops in the backfield.
Barton says defensive tackle Tyler Peters and defensive end Kolton Farrar will be limited Friday night due to injuries. Everyone else has a clean bill of health.
Claiborne brings a 3-5 record and a four-game losing streak into the contest. Playing two classifications up, the Class 1A Rebels lost to Riverfield 51-14 last week.
Playoff pairings will be released this weekend.