Melrose-Mindoro High School football coach Tory Lockington had a bad introduction to WIAA football playoff seeding last season.
His Mustangs won their final eight games with their only loss to an undefeated defending state champion — Bangor — and walked away with a No. 6 seed in its quarter of the Division 6 playoff bracket.
“I was shocked,” Lockington said. “We had good teams, but I thought we should have been in the top four.”
The Mustangs had a similar season this fall. Melrose-Mindoro was presented at Saturday’s meeting with an 8-1 record, as an undefeated conference champion and as a team with one loss to a state semifinalist from last season — Bangor.
But things changed for the Mustangs this time around, and they were awarded with the No. 1 seed after winning a runoff vote and successfully defending a challenge from second-seeded Spring Valley (8-1).
“I was hoping for the top seed, but you never know,” Lockington said. “I think our defense is playing very well right now, and that’s what I talked about. We had five shutouts, and that’s important.”
The Mustangs, who host Lake Holcombe/Cornell (4-5) in a first-round game Friday, are the only Coulee Region team with a No. 1 seed.
Bangor (9-0) drew the second seed in its part of the Division 7 bracket after coming up short in an argument against defending state champion Edgar (9-0) getting it.
Edgar beat the Cardinals in last year’s semifinal round and has outscored its opponents 319-12 this season. Bangor has outscored its opponents 479-22.
Onalaska (8-1) picked up a No. 3 seed in Division 3, and West Salem (7-2) followed at No. 4. The Hilltoppers host Mosinee (5-4), and the Panthers host New Richmond (6-2).
Holmen (7-2) received a No. 4 seed in Division 2, and Central (5-4) checked in at No. 8 in the same quarter of the bracket. The Vikings host Marshfield (6-3), and the Red Raiders travel to Menomonie (9-0) to play their first playoff game in four years.
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (9-0) competed with Bangor to be the most dominant team in the area during the regular season, and it enters as a third seed in Division 4.
The Red Hawks averaged 50.2 points per game and held seven opponents to eight points or less, are seeded behind No. 1 Osceola (9-0) and defending champion St. Croix Central (8-1).