The final weekend of the regular season no longer is the scramble it once was for playoff-bound high-school football teams and other hopefuls.

The final weekend of the regular season no longer is the scramble it once was for playoff-bound high-school football teams and other hopefuls.

At Johnstown, for example, coach Mike Carter gave his scouts last Friday off so they could enjoy the rivalry game with Northridge.

"That's our tradition now and they really look forward to it," said Carter, whose Johnnies were fourth in last week's Division V, Region 19 computer ratings and had a third consecutive postseason berth locked up, with the top eight in each region qualifying for the playoffs. "We're playing on Saturday this year (as are Divisions I and III) and I think the Friday teams (Divisions II, IV and VI) are a little more anxious. We have an extra day built in this year, but it wouldn't matter either way."

Carter's stance contrasts that of some coaches, like Licking Valley's Randy Baughman, whose team was ranked third last week in Division III, Region 11. The Panthers are headed to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and eighth time this decade. Baughman employed extra people to scout games last Friday involving possible opponents.

"We're sending two, maybe three groups out," he said. "Unfortunately, we never have much success. Who we scout we usually don't seem to end up playing."

Trying to figure out all the possible scenarios is what makes scouting so difficult at this time of the year.

"We're feeling the pinch of the current economy. We have to make prudent decisions, but we've tried to turn that situation into a positive," Carter said. "We just can't afford to spend our time needlessly"

Besides, technology makes it possible to obtain information on opponents with the click of a mouse. Also, teams exchange film of three games for the playoffs instead of two as is the case during the regular season.

That's one reason why Licking Heights coach Darren Waters kept his scouting staff home last Friday, too. The Hornets were ranked 10th last week in Division IV, Region 15 and likely needed a win over West Jefferson to qualify for the playoffs in the first place.

"We're not putting the cart before the horse," Waters said. "The best thing we can do is take care of business.

"And with technology being what it is and getting three films to watch, anyway, teams don't have to have scouts running all over the state anymore on the last night. We do most of our scouting off film."

The final computer rankings and first-round playoff pairings will be announced today by the OHSAA. Most coaches believe they know whether their teams are inor outand even who they will play in the opening round before those announcements. That can allow teams to retain a schedule they've had all season in terms of preparation.

"We usually know (the pairings) late Friday night now, and by Saturday morning we're ready to set up a film exchange," Baughman said. "We stay on schedule that way and that's what you want."

NOTES -- Entering Last Friday, DeSales was 9-0 overall, ranked first in the Division II state poll and had the state's highest computer-point total (31.4691). Four central-Ohio teams still were undefeated, but at the most only three finished that way because Canal Winchester played Logan Elm in their MSL-Buckeye Division finales. The other undefeated team was Pickerington Central. Five teams went 10-0 during the regular season a year ago. Licking Valley might be stressing takeaways during the playoffs. Written on a blackboard in the team's locker room last week was this question and statement: "How do you want to be remembered? Jake Butler had 14 interceptions in 2002. Our team currently has seven." The word "team" in that last sentence was underlined. A record five Licking County teams made the playoffs a year ago. Seven were ranked among the top 10 in their regions entering last Friday, including Utica in Division IV and Newark Catholic in Division VI. The others were Granville in Division III and Heath in Division V.