As the boys and girls soccer regular seasons conclude this week, those involved know this much: "Good enough" isn't good enough anymore.
While some schools battle through three or four matches in a seven-day period - which makes for significant, daily fluctuations in the power point system - at least 15 teams (boys or girls) within the East Valley are on the bubble for an at-large state tournament spot for each of the three divisions, which begins next Tuesday (boys) or Wednesday (girls).
Here's what we know: The top three teams in each section (based on power points) earn automatic spots into the tournament. That's nine schools, with seven other schools earning those at-large bids based on power points.
Beyond that? Few know or could even stage an educated guess as to the necessary scenarios needed for a given school to get in.
A dozen boys teams across the three divisions are on pins and needles, either needing to win the final match or two, and others need to win and receive help. And nobody knows whether they need help, or how much.
Approximately 10 East Valley schools on the girls side face the same scenarios.
"It makes it fun in the end, but it's bizarre," said Highland boys coach David Belfort, whose Hawks are one of those needing to their final two matches for a chance at the playoffs.
But for schools similar to Highland, it's too difficult to gauge whether some help will be needed.
At the most, three boys teams with five losses in power point matches could make the state tournament, though that's anything but a guarantee. Chandler has a chance in Division I, while Higley and Tempe have a chance in Division II, and Tempe Prep, Combs and Scottsdale Christian have a chance in Division III.
Nobody who finishes .500 is getting in, and 96 percent of schools (boys or girls, regardless of division) figure to be at least three games above .500 to have a chance at getting in.
Meanwhile, teams such as Corona del Sol (girls), Perry (boys), Mountain Pointe (girls), Basha (boys), Saguaro (girls) and Valley Christian (girls) were all cited by opposing coaches as schools that nobody would want to play in the state tournament, but may not get there anyway.
Perry girls, for example, moved to No. 13 in the power points in Division I after Monday night's victory over Mesquite. The Pumas (7-4) play Mountain Pointe (6-4) on Thursday to end the season.
Perry is one of the smallest schools in Division I, and is in the current logjam of schools from Nos. 12 through No. 17. Coach Gary DeGrow figures if the Pumas lose to Mountain Pointe, they would fall to around No. 17 or 18 and be out of the tournament.
"You're going to find some growing pains, we'll call them," he said. "The main issue is schools legitimately played well enough and not make it because others won, played a much lighter schedule and will get in."
In a couple days, the smog from all these scenarios will lift (like it or not), and seeding will be revealed.
That message was equally clear: Don't even try.
"I think you could pick out the 16 teams who are going to be there," Red Mountain girls coach Andy Barber said. "Where they're stacked up is anyone's guess. Outside probably Xavier, good luck trying to pick all this stuff out."
Though many are hopeful for change, or at least modifications, during the next two-
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.