It’s truly a case of Deja Vu all over again for the Alice Coyotes.

Alice is here again, for the fourth year in a row. Alice and Gregory-Portland… a District 30-5A game with so much riding on it that it might as well be a playoff game.

While both teams have two regular season games and an interzone game left to play, Friday night’s game carries a lot of weight, especially for the Coyotes. Since Alice is 2-0 with North Zone wins against Ray and Miller, a win over Gregory-Portland Friday night almost certainly means either a first or second place finish in the zone standings. Calallen will, of course, have a say in Alice’s final standing, but even a loss to the Wildcats means second place in the North.

That standing is crucial for Alice’s playoff future since it’ll be the difference between playing either the South’s Flour Bluff or Veterans Memorial in a Week 10 play-in game or playing 1-5 King or 5-1 Moody. A first or second place finish in the zone standings also means home-field advantage in the play-in games.

Alice coach Kyle Atwood is new to 30-5A’s zone format, but he recognizes the ramifications of the Gregory-Portland game.

“I think if we win this week, we’ll be in great shape,” Atwood said. “If we’re able to win, we’re basically 1 or 2 in the zone. That means home-field advantage in the play-in game against an opponent that we’ll match-up well against. I think our fans travel well, but at home, we have an extremely good turnout. It’s really a hostile place for teams to come in and play in, so having home-field advantage is key for us.”

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they’ve ended up on the wrong side of the final score against G-P for the last three years and they’ve suffered for it. With each loss to Gregory-Portland since 2014, the Coyotes have been kept out of the postseason or at least a chance at playing for a playoff spot.

In 2014 and 2015, late-season losses to the Wildcats dashed the Coyotes’ playoff hopes. Despite knowing what was on the line each time, Alice lost to Gregory-Portland, 42-14, in 2014 and, 29-28, in 2015.

The Coyotes lost to the Wildcats, 42-36, in a North Zone match last season. The loss sent Gregory-Portland to a meaningful interzone play-in game, while Alice settled for a meaningless end-of-season game against Moody.