Gloucester coach Trey Sowers isn't surprised. Neither is Kecoughtan's Frank Hughes, though he never expected to be a part of it.
Going into the final day of the regular season in Peninsula District boys soccer, three teams are tied atop the standings at 7-1 (21 points). Two of them, Menchville and Kecoughtan, play each other Tuesday in what could be an elimination game. The third, Gloucester, is home to Warwick.
"It's very unusual," Sowers said. "But going into the season, I felt it was really wide open as far as who would end up on top. And it's panned out that way."
Here are five scenarios that could unfold Tuesday:
(1) If Gloucester wins, and the Menchville-Kecoughtan game does not end in a tie, that would create a one-game playoff for the district championship and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Region tournament. That playoff is tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Passage Middle School in Newport News.
(2) If Gloucester wins, and Menchville-Kecoughtan ends in a tie, the Dukes would win the district title outright.
(3) If Gloucester loses or ties, the Menchville-Kecoughtan winner would claim the district championship outright.
(4) If Gloucester loses, and the Menchville-Kecoughtan game ends in a tie, the Monarchs and Warriors would have a one-game playoff to decide the district title.
(5) If Gloucester ties Warwick, and Kecoughtan-Menchville also ends in a draw, the regular season would end with the Dukes, Warriors and Monarchs still tied for first place. That would set up a two-game, tournament-style playoff.
In 2008, Menchville, Kecoughtan and Warwick each went into the final game of the regular season at 7-1. The Monarchs and Warriors won, but the Raiders tied. Kecoughtan then won the playoff game for the district title and automatic regional bid.
Last spring, the Warriors ran the table in the district. But they lost PD Player of the Year Max Wayman-Arndt and first-team all-district picks Austin Whipple and Anders Hasselquist, so Hughes' expectations weren't as high.
"At the beginning of the season, heck yeah, I'd have taken this in a heartbeat," he said. "I knew Menchville and Gloucester would be strong this season. If memory serves, they didn't lose as many as I did.
"There's more parity than there's been in the past. But if we end up tied with Gloucester, that will be more than I could have foreseen us doing this season."
Another playoff possibility could be at the bottom of the standings. Warwick (3-4-1, 10) has a three-point lead over Denbigh (2-5-1, 7). But if the Dukes lose to Gloucester and the Patriots beat Heritage, that would set up a playoff for the sixth and final seed.
On the girls' side, Gloucester (7-0-1, 22) can clinch today with a win over Warwick. If the Dukes lose, that leaves the door open for Menchville (6-0-2, 20), who close at Kecoughtan.
"It all comes down to Tuesday," Gloucester coach
In PD baseball, Hampton (14-2 district) has a one-game lead over Menchville with two left to play. The Crabbers are at home Tuesday against Kecoughtan and then close at Phoebus. The Monarchs have two tough games remaining: at Bethel on Tuesday, at Kecoughtan on Friday.
Hampton, which had finished below .500 in each of the previous three seasons, is in the driver's seat for its first district championship since 2008.
"The kids have done a real good job of playing the game and not looking ahead to what's next," Crabbers coach Danny Mitchell said.
At the bottom of the standings, Denbigh has a one-game lead over Phoebus for the eighth and final seed. With games remaining against Gloucester and Hampton, the Phantoms don't figure to catch up.
In softball, Gloucester (15-1) has a one-game lead over Menchville and Kecoughtan in its quest for a third straight outright championship. The Dukes' final two district games are against Phoebus and Warwick, two teams they have already beaten handily this season.