It’s been 14 years since the Meridian football team has won a playoff game.
Since beating Capital 44-14 for the 5A state title 2007, the Warriors have made the playoffs seven times, but have been bounced in their first game each time, including a 42-28 loss to Highland last season.
The Warriors (6-3) will look to end that streak at 7 p.m. today when it hosts Madison (6-3) in the first round of the state playoffs.
It will be the first home playoff game hosted by the Warriors since losing to Coeur d’Alene in 2014.
Meridian has been competitive in every game this season, including in each of its three losses — to playoff teams Mountain View, Eagle and Rocky Mountain. Those losses have been by a combined five points.
The Warriors boast a strong defensive unit, which has shut down opponents all season long and currently ranks top among 5A teams with just 9.2 points per game allowed. Meridian has posted three shutouts and hasn’t allowed any opponents to score more than 24 points this season.
Offensively, quarterback Malakai Martinez has been hampered by injuries this season. He has played in recent weeks and indicated Tuesday on Twitter that he was good to go for the playoffs.
Senior running back Kross Antonnacci enters the game averaging 105.8 yards per game, according to MaxPreps.
CAPITAL AT LEWISTON, 8 P.M. MDT
Todd Simis will be going for one final special run before he hangs up the whistle.
The Capital coach is retiring after this season, ending 18 years on the Eagles' sideline.
Capital (6-3) snapped a two-game losing streak last week with a 42-7 win against Timberline to clinch a spot in the state playoffs. The Eagles will face a tough defensive task right out the bat, taking on a team looking to right a wrong.
Lewiston (7-2) is leading the 5A with 41 points per game this season. But the Bengals were held to just a touchdown in a 38-7 loss to Coeur d’Alene last Friday and then lost out in a Kansas City tiebreaker on Monday.
If the Bengals do regain their offensive footing, Capital will need quarterback Max Clark, who has passed for more than 2,000 yards this season, to help it keep pace.
BORAH AT EAGLE, 7 P.M.
Borah had to sweat it out for four days before it found off whether or not it made the playoffs.
The Lions’ wait started with Friday’s 41-14 loss to Skyview in a winner-to-state game. Borah (5-4) had to watch Friday as all the teams it needed to win did their part, but still had to wait until Post Falls was the odd team out of a three-team Kansas City tiebreaker on Monday before the Lions could claim the lone at-large spot.
Eagle (7-2) comes into the tournament on a five-game winning streak, which started with a come-from behind victory against Meridian.
The Mustangs feature a balanced offensive attack with dual threat quarterback Jack Benson and big-play threat receivers Donovan Jones and Ian Duarte. Deegan Martinho leads the rushing attack.
Parker Rushton, a 1,000-yard rusher, leads the Borah running attack, while quarterback Korbin McCarney is averaging just above 200 passing yards per game with 1,875 yards on the season.
SKYVIEW VS. HIGHLAND, 5:30 P.M. AT HOLT ARENA
Skyview was the No. 5 seed from the tough 5A Southern Idaho Conference Foothills Division, but was able to beat Borah, No. 2 from the River Division, to snap a four-game losing streak and secure a state playoff berth for the second straight year.
Skyview (5-4) is led by 1,000-yard rusher Atonio Fifita, while quarterback Max Cutforth has 1,796 passing yards and threw for five touchdowns in the win against Borah.
Highland (7-2) comes into the game led by senior quarterback Jack Whitmer, who has passed for 1,575 yards and leads the Rams with 665 rushing yards, accounting for 21 total touchdowns.
4A STATE PLAYOFFS
NAMPA AT EMMETT, 7 P.M.
After a surprise 4A Southern Idaho Conference title and run to the state championship game, Emmett is back at it, having won their second straight SIC title.
The Huskies (7-2) did suffer their first conference loss with an 8-7 stumble against Vallivue last week, but still held on to the league title thanks to the tiebreaker it earned with a 21-0 win against Bishop Kelly in the league opener.
Senior quarterback Caden Young is still a tough matchup for opposing defenses, having passed for 1,021 yards and rushed for 1,451 more. He’s also accounted for 32 of the 42 touchdowns the Huskies have scored this season.
Nampa (5-4), meanwhile, enters the playoffs on a four-game winning streak that started following a 40-30 loss to Emmett on Sept. 24. The Bulldogs have scored more than 50 points in each of their last three games.
Quarterback Gabe Navarro enters the game 29 yards shy of the 2,000-yard passing mark, while his top target, Trais Higgins, has caught 64 passes this year for 1,234 yards and eight touchdowns.
MIDDLETON AT BLACKFOOT, 7 P.M.
Middleton brings in the top offense in the 4A classification, averaging 42.6 points per game and scoring at least 40 points in eight of its nine games this season.
A big reason for the offensive success has been senior quarterback Ky McClure, who has accounted for 3,313 total yards on the season, 2,715 in the air and 598 on the ground. Perhaps what McClure is best at is spreading the ball around. The Vikings have an arsenal of receivers which has seen 11 different players catch passes this year. Both Owen Graviet and Tate Johansen have more than 700 receiving yards, while Tyler Medaris is not far behind with 684. That trio has also combined to catch 19 of Middleton’s 23 touchdown receptions.
Blackfoot (4-5) enters the game having lost three of its last five.
TWIN FALLS AT BISHOP KELLY, 7 P.M.
Bishop Kelly caught the short end of the straw with the seedings, as the Knights (7-2) finished the year ranked No. 4 in the MaxPreps final rankings, but fell to No. 7 in the seedings as the top five spots were reserved for conference winners.
As a result, the Knights will have to face Twin Falls (7-2), whose only two losses came against No. 2 seed Pocatello, who the winner of this one could see next week, and No. 3 Minico.
After a 1-2 start to the season, Bishop Kelly enters having won six straight since its loss to Emmett. Since that shutout, the Knights have scored at least 35 points in all six games.
VALLIVUE AT MINICO, 7 P.M.
Vallivue got into the playoffs as one of the four at-large bids and will travel to face unbeaten Minico, the unanimous No. 1 team in the final 4A state media poll.
The Falcons (5-4) will be going up against a defense which has allowed a 4A-best 11 points per game, not counting a forfeit win against Wood River.
3A STATE PLAYOFFS
BUHL AT WEISER, 7 P.M.
Weiser figures to be a heavy favorite in this one, a rematch of a 35-6 game won by the Wolverines in the season opener at Buhl.
Since then, Weiser (8-1) has lost only to top-seeded Homedale.
For Buhl (3-5), the loss was part of a 1-4 start. The Indians posted back-to-back wins before a 38-17 loss to Filer last week. Buhl then won a three-team Kansas City tiebreaker with Filer and Kimberly on Monday to qualify for the playoffs.
2A STATE PLAYOFFS
WEST JEFFERSON AT MELBA, 7 P.M.
After being the only team from the Western Idaho Conference to qualify for the state playoffs last year, Melba is one of three teams from the league in the postseason.
Melba (6-3) enters the state tournament having won six of seven, with a loss to Nampa Christian keeping the Mustangs from capturing a second straight WIC title.
COLE VALLEY AT BEAR LAKE, 1 P.M. SATURDAY
Cole Valley is in the state playoffs for the third time in four years, with the Chargers (5-3) winning a game in each of their last two trips.
The Chargers will face the Bears (5-3), which enter the playoffs on a three-game winning streak.