The Richland Bombers football team dodged a bullet Friday night, and knew it.
The Bombers walked out of the Fran Rish Stadium locker room after a 40-31 loss to Eisenhower thinking their season was done. Shortly thereafter, they learned that Wenatchee had upset Davis 29-21 in Yakima that kept the door open for a spot in the 4A Eastern Regional playoffs Nov. 4.
"This morning the kids were pretty guarded. It's like almost getting in a car wreck and then having that 'Oh my god, I just got away with one' feeling. But they know they did it to themselves," Bombers coach Mike Neidhold said. "We had a lot of them come in this morning for film, and Mrs. Egbert (mother of Richland wide receiver Connor Egbert) made two pans of her famous cinnamon rolls. Those are pretty good cinammon rolls -- so good they earned her two helmet stickers."
The Bombers (5-3, 2-3 CBBN 4A) aren't in the clear yet, however. With Chiawana (7-0, 5-0) and Eisenhower (7-1, 4-1) locked into playoff spots, there's a lot of work to be done to earn that final berth.
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First, Richland must beat Moses Lake at Fran Rish on Friday. Chiawana also must beat Wenatchee (5-3, 3-2) to set up a three-way tiebreaker between Davis, Richland and Wenatchee at 3-3.
But if the Panthers can pull a second big road upset against the Riverhawks, they would earn the No. 3 seed and send the Bombers and Pirates to meaningless crossover games.
Needless to say, Richland players, coaches and fans will all become huge Chiawana boosters this week.
"Steve (Graff) and I are close friends to start with. We root for each other anyway. He's the first person to call me after a tough loss or a big win," Neidhold said. "This week we're pulling for Chiawana for a lot of reasons. We want them to take care of business, so we can get into the tournament."
Asked if there was anything planned to motivate the Riverhawks this week, Neidhold said he would exchange a football helmet for a chef's hat.
"Have you ever had (Graff's wife) Dana's scotcheroos? They rival Mrs. Egbert's cinnamon rolls," Neidhold said. "I told Graff if he took care of business, I will make you scotcheroos. He thought that was a good idea."
At nearly 50 players, the Chiawana roster would be a pretty big order.
"You're darn right. Those guys can eat," Neidhold said.